Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s soccer drops fourth-straight in frustrating loss at Dayton

Minutemen continue slide losing their fourth straight
(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team faced another one of the better teams in the country on Saturday. They kept things close, but were once again unable to capitalize with the same success as Dayton, who notched two second half goals.

The Minutemen (4-5-0) came out with high energy once again despite another  daunting opponent.  They had five total shots compared to the six that Dayton (5-4-0) had in the first half including what they thought was a goal but ultimately got called back.

“We’re creating some good chances,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “It’s unfortunate that we had a perfectly good goal called back in the first half. We need to keep working on our finishing. We’ve got to put more of these chances away. We came out flying and took it right to Dayton. It’s probably the toughest place in the league to get a result. We felt like we should’ve had a lead in the first half.”

Each team had nine shots in the second half, but it was the Flyers who were able to capitalize twice and pull ahead late. Midfielder Laurel Aug struck twice scoring once just after the 54th minute and once just after the 79th minute. UMass matched Dayton with a total of five shots on goal in the match. It was far from an unimpressive showing for an extremely banged up and inexperienced Minutemen team against the best of what the conference has to offer.

“We’re a very inexperienced team with injuries. We took it to them for large portions,” O’Leary said. “We have a confidence that we can play with them. These are games of fine margins and when you’re presented with chances you have to take them. In each case, we’d be ahead in these games if we had converted on chances. We can compete with these teams in spite of our lack of experience.”

A lack of discipline, while not unexpected for a young group, was once again a significant problem for UMass in this match. After having 16 fouls against Boston College, the Minutemen had 18 on Saturday night. Dayton only committed eight fouls, a sign of the experience and poise that helped them hang on. As much as anything, this can be attributed to the aggressive, pressing zone defense that the Minutemen like to deploy. Expect to see the Minutemen work on this issue without making drastic, strategic changes.

“We want to get back to posting clean sheets. We’re giving out cheap goals right now. We just have to tighten up more as a group,” O’Leary said. “When you play a pressing zone and you like to press teams, sometimes you give away free kicks.”

As UMass looks to turn things around and get back to .500, veteran leadership will be vital. Players such as goalkeeper Ryan Saul and defenseman Eric Eberl have the poise and experience to guide them through these trying times.

“We’re not going to panic. We’ll keep our head down, work hard, and stay together,” O’Leary said. “One of the benefits of having good guys is with difficult spells, they’ll stay together.”

The minutemen continue A-10 play at home next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Saint Louis.

Richard Rodgers can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RichardDRodgers.

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