UMass men’s soccer looks to get back on track against struggling Davidson

The Minutemen haven’t scored in four games

Mehroz+Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

By Richard Rodgers, Collegian Correspondent

UMass men’s soccer will look to get back on track during its third consecutive A-10 matchup against Davidson on Wednesday night.

The Minutemen (4-6-0, 0-2 A-10) don’t have much time to dwell on another disheartening loss, this time by a score of 2-0 at the hands of Saint Louis. They’ll look to learn from Saturday’s defeat and snap their five-game losing streak, including four games without a single goal, against an A-10 opponent also starving for a win.

“We’ve all shown an ability to do things to help us win games, but we haven’t shown a consistency to do them time and time and time again over a ninety-minute period,” coach Fran O’Leary said. “A little play up the field can lead to a bigger problem and a goal. We’ve got to get back to basics and show that we can consistently do the dirty, little things well. If we do those things well, that transfers into clean sheets again. When you have a solid foundation, you find ways to get a goal. We can do these things, but we have to do them every time. If we can bring a consistency, then these things will turn.”

For the Wildcats (1-6-2, 0-2 A-10), it’s been a disappointing season to an even greater degree. After being predicted to finish sixth in the A-10 preseason poll, Davidson hasn’t won since its season opener against Wake Tech.

Despite sitting 11th in the A-10 standings, the Wildcats have had some impressive performances against high-caliber opponents. In their last game against Virginia Commonwealth, currently ranked second in the conference, they lost 2-1 in double overtime. They also had tight results against North Carolina, a 0-0 double-overtime draw, and Wake Forest, a 1-0 loss. Both of those teams are regarded amongst the best in the country.

“I don’t think their record at all shows the quality that they are,” defender Logan Brown said. “You look at their schedule and they’ve had a really tough schedule playing teams like North Carolina and Wake Forest. You look at the record thinking this might be an easier game, but we can’t go into at all thinking like that. There’s clearly quality there. They know how to play with the big boys, so we just have to go in tough, strong, and fix the little things that we’ve missed out on in the past few games.”

For the Minutemen, it’s been a similar story during each match of their current skid. While they’ve kept matches close on the back end, the forwards and midfielders have been unable to capitalize on the quality chances they create. UMass has also seen a slight drop-off in the level of defensive play. After posting four clean sheets in their first five games, the Minutemen are hungry to get back to that level.

“Clearly, right now we’re just lacking on finishing, haven’t scored a goal in four games,” Brown said. “I think that’s something we’ve just got to keep on working on and I think it’s going to fall our way pretty soon. I think our strength going into this game is just our back line. They’ve been solid, I mean, we’ve broken down a few times the past few games, but if we can get back to the way we were in the beginning of the season, having that lockdown defense, that’s something that’s going to boost everyone’s confidence in every game. It’s just so important to keep that clean sheet.”

UMass has its work cut out for it in what should be one of the more winnable matches it’s played in a while. The Minutemen haven’t had trouble creating opportunities but finishing them will be a must along with the amplification of their strong performance on the back end of the field.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Alumni Soccer Stadium in Davidson.

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