The Massachusetts men’s soccer team got back into the win column Saturday afternoon, defeating the Colgate Raiders 2-1.
The win came from a strong second half in which UMass was able to generate nine shots. Four of those shots were saved by Colgate goalkeeper Peter Tappenden.
The Minutemen (4-2-1) were able to generate good chances throughout the contest, but Tappenden made save-after-save to keep the Raiders (3-4-0) in the game.
“He made two or three point-blank saves,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said after the game. “If he hadn’t, I think we’d have been able to put the game to bed quicker.”
UMass was trying to rebound from its 1-0 loss against Dartmouth, a game in which its offense was unable to generate much of anything throughout the game, only getting off four shots. The Minutemen made sure to not string together back-to-back poor offensive performances, putting together one of their best games on that end of the season.
Samuel Asamoah got things started for UMass, scoring the first goal of the contest just 13:41 into the game. The junior was able to elude a defender and strike the ball with his left foot into the net.
That was the only goal of the first half for the Minutemen, and just about the only solid opportunity they had to score. Colgate would answer with a goal of their own, and the teams went into the second half knotted at one.
O’Leary got on his group at halftime for looking lackadaisical out on the pitch, and his squad responded in the second half. They came out with far more energy than Colgate, winning the ball the majority of the time.
“We just came out with more energy and intensity,” O’Leary said. “We started winning some of the battles for control of possession. [When] you get more of the ball you hope you’ll create more scoring opportunities.”
Those scoring opportunities came in bunches. Midfielder Henry Steinkamp had a great look on net that was saved by Tappenden. Just a few possessions later, Matthew Mooney found a cutting Asamoah who got off a clean look, but Tappenden stood tall once again and made another great save.
In the 63rd minute, it looked as though UMass would finally find its second goal, as Asamoah got off a strong shot that was saved, but the rebound came off and a Minutemen was able to get the ball in a crowd and fire it back on goal, but it hit the post. A foul was then called on Jack Fulton, leading to yet another close but missed opportunity for UMass.
“We got in behind them,” Mooney said. “Once we were behind them, we could start playing the ball a little bit and get some crosses. That’s where a lot of our opportunities came from, especially on the counter-attacks. We’d go on, get a four-on-three or a three-on-two and that’s how we got a lot of our chances as well.”
The break the Minutemen were looking for finally came in the 72nd minute. Fulton fielded the ball inside the box, beat his defender where he found freshman Davis Smith who was standing right near the boundary next to the net. Smith snuck the ball past Tappenden from a tough angle, giving UMass a 2-1 lead. That goal would prove to be the game winner.
Smith credits the pressure the Minutemen front was able to put on the Raiders as a reason for the offensive spark.
“We were working hard,” Smith said. “Even though it was hot, we managed to keep our high press going and that’s where most of our opportunities came from.”
UMass will look to continue its strong offensive play Tuesday, as it travels to New Britain, Connecticut to take on Central Connecticut State.
Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.