Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen earn their first point of the Atlantic 10 season against defending champion Dayton

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Junior Matthew Mooney brings the ball downfield against Dayton on Saturday.  (Alex Tang/Daily Collegian)

Junior Matthew Mooney brings the ball downfield against Dayton.
(Alex Tang/Daily Collegian)

Grey skies and cool, raw air set the stage for a highly competitive 110 minute 0-0 draw between the Massachusetts men’s soccer team and defending Atlantic 10 conference champion Dayton.

The Minutemen (2-6-2, 0-0-1 A-10) were looking for redemption Saturday against a Flyer team (3-5-2, 0-0-1 A-10) that defeated them easily a year ago in Dayton, Ohio.

This year UMass had a chance to defend their home field and make a statement against one of this season’s heavy favorites to win the conference again.

Through a series of ebbs and flows the game ultimately could be summed up as a tale of two halves. The Flyers—with nine corner kicks and 10 shots—controlled most of the first half and provided heavy pressure on the back line and Minutemen goalkeeper Jorge Becerra.

“I thought the back line played outstanding,” Becerra said. “They put in hard work every single game and you got to give them credit. It makes my job a lot easier and takes a lot of pressure off me.”

Becerra had to make three of his four saves on the day in the first half on route to his second clean sheet of the season—both coming in the last four games.

While Dayton controlled the pace for much of the first half, the best scoring chance of the game for UMass came with 17 minutes to go in the half when junior midfielder Matthew Mooney took aim from just outside the box, and fired a shot that bounced off the crossbar.

“I mean I just think about like ‘I’ll get the next one, I’ll get the next one’,” Mooney said. “ I think it’s good we were creating the chances, that’s something we’ve kind of lacked.”

Offensively, this was the first time since August that the Minutemen had been shut out.

UMass controlled the majority of the second half as well as both overtime periods, and part of that can be attributed to the 10 of 13 fouls committed by Dayton occurring during that stretch.

Players on both teams were also assessed a yellow card for a couple of egregious fouls as the game began to get a little more physical. However, Minutemen coach Fran O’Leary expected that kind of atmosphere.

“I thought it was alright,” O’Leary said. “Just a tough game between two conference rivals, and a game where both teams wanted to kick the conference season off with some points.”

Even though UMass received two free kicks less than a minute apart in the offensive half of the field courtesy of the Flyer’s foul trouble, they were unable to find the back of the net.

In the overtime periods, again it was the Minutemen who were applying the majority of the pressure. Mooney found a second scoring chance early in the first half of overtime, but the ball once again curved just wide of the mark. UMass also mounted the only corner kick opportunity in overtime but failed to capitalize on that as well.

After 110 goalless minutes the final whistle blew and both teams walked away with a clean sheet and their first point in conference play.

“I think it was a terrific start,” O’Leary said. “What happens is you want the three points, but at the same time you get just one point of the draw and you’re taking two points away from the defending conference champions.”

The Minutemen will wrap up their non-conference schedule on Tuesday at Rudd field when they take on Central Connecticut. The opening kick off is set for 4 p.m.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected] 

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