UMass ties 0-0 in double overtime at home against VCU in regular season finale

UMass goalless in third of its last four games

By Pedro Gray Soares, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team concluded its regular season with a 0-0 tie at home against VCU on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

UMass (8-4-5, 2-2-4 Atlantic 10) faced a strong VCU (9-6-2, 4-3-1 A-10) squad in its regular season finale and got out another stellar performance by goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin and the back four. The Minutemen hit the goalpost twice, outshot the Rams 21-14 and dominated the second half, but the game-winning goal never came.

With the point earned in the draw, UMass now sits in eighth place in the A-10 standings. With remaining games left for other A-10 teams, the Minutemen must wait for other results to finish to see whether they qualify for the A-10 Tournament.

“If we get in [to the A-10 Tournament], we’ll go in with a lot of confidence from today’s performance,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said.

In an even first half, the Rams seemed a bit more in control, but their heavy struggles with offsides throughout the whole game nullified many of their chances, including two goals.

UMass started every period with a high press, hoping the pressure along with the elements, would help force turnovers, but had trouble keeping possession of the ball in the attacking third.

The second half was a complete change of pace for UMass compared to its first half performance. The Minutemen went back to the press, turned their passing up a notch and earned a few dangerous opportunities.

“In the first half we didn’t have enough tempo in our passes, we maybe overpassed it at times,” O’Leary said. “In the second half our passing became crisper and quicker, we pressed better. I thought we were terrific.”

Striker Filippo Begliardi Ghidini had the best chance of the game for UMass. After a takeaway, a brilliant shot fake by him put a defender on the ground, followed by a rocket of a shot that smashed the Rams’ left goalpost.

Long balls to Begliardi Ghidini were part of the game plan, but the VCU defense handled them well.

For the Rams, a large part of their opportunities came in the form of crosses, especially from Celio Pompeu.  The midfielder, positioned on the left sideline throughout the game,  made runs and sent the ball into the box for VCU, but the UMass defense also did their due diligence.

One of the clearest opportunities in the game came in the 21st minute when VCU filtered a through ball to Pompeu. He unleashed a close-range strike to the bottom left, but it was saved by Dorchin. The Frenchman would make another vital intervention in a one-on-one situation later in the first half. He was the backbone for the Minutemen on many occasions throughout the game.

“[Dorchin’s] fantastic,” O’Leary said. “Hopefully it wasn’t his last game, but if it was he’s been terrific. He’s one of the top keepers in the country.”

During the last 15 minutes of regulation, the Minutemen’s attack swarmed the Rams. However, the breakthrough goal didn’t come, and the Minutemen were forced to battle it out in overtime.

The first overtime period featured even back and forth play with the highlight being a stout Minutemen defense that played especially well under pressure in the last few minutes. Much of the second overtime period mirrored the first, but the last minute was quite eventful.

With about a minute left, Begliardi Ghidini had a clear chance to send UMass into the A-10 tournament, with a win solidifying the Minutemen’s playoff chances. He missed a tough shot from within the six-yard box wide right of the net. With time about to expire, a long ball by VCU reached the Minutemen box. Dorchin rushed out to clear it, but the Rams forward got there first.

After getting past Dorchin, the attacker put the ball in the bottom of the net as the clock hit zero. However, the Rams sideline exploded with exasperation when it was nullified due to offsides.

“It was kind of like what happened all game,” Dorchin said. “[VCU] were really stretching to play the through ball, but they were always offside.”

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @PedroGraySoares.