Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

A look at UMass men’s soccer as it enters conference play

The Minutemen kicked off Atlantic 10 action on Saturday
Collegian archives

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team opened Atlantic 10 play on Saturday as it battled Virginia Commonwealth to a 0-0 draw. Saturday marked the first of eight conference games that the Minutemen (5-0-2, 0-0-1 Atlantic 10) have to determine if they will make the A-10 tournament in November.

UMass had a strong start to its season and currently hold an undefeated record. This week the Minutemen received votes for the first time this season from the United Soccer Coaches ranking of the top 25 NCAA Division I soccer teams but did not receive a ranking. However, if the success continues, the national attention will continue to increase.

“It’s nice but it doesn’t really mean anything at this stage,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “It’s really the last poll of the year, that’s the only one that matters.”

Prior to Sep. 15, the Minutemen were locked in three separate ties across the country in comparison to other programs: 7th in the country in goal differential, 21st in points per game, and 7th in win-lost-tied percentage. However, UMass realizes that there’s a lot of work still ahead for it this season both in conference and non-conference play.

“We’re just trying to go win a game,” O’Leary said. “It’s one at a time we’re just trying to win the next game on Tuesday and then we’ll worry about the conference again come the weekend.”

Seven games into the season, the Minutemen exceeded all expectations. In the A-10 preseason poll, UMass was ranked to finish 9th, but after the cumulative success its accomplished together this year, the Minutemen could be serious contendors in the A-10 tournament.

Possible contenders for the conference title

Saint Louis entered the season as the preseason favorite to win the A-10 after winning the conference title last season. The Billikens (3-3, 1-0 A-10) are led by John Klein, a returning A-10 all-conference selection and they opened their conference play with a decisive 3-1 win over La Salle.

The A-10 currently has one ranked team who will be in contention for the title: Dayton.

Ranked 17th, the Flyers (5-0-1, 0-0-1 A-10) battled to a 1-1 draw against Saint Joseph’s on opening day, with former Minuteman Logan Brown taking a place on their roster after transfering to Dayton prior to the start of the season.

Upcoming conference opponents

UMass’ next three matchups in the A-10 include Duquesne, Fordham, and George Washington. The Dukes (6-0-1, 1-0 A-10) have the best overall record among A-10 teams so far this season, opening conference action with a 2-1 win over new member Loyola-Chicago. Also receiving votes in the coach’s poll this week, the game against Duquesne could feature two undefeated schools when the Dukes come to Amherst on Saturday.

It was the day of the draws as the Rams (2-1-4, 0-0-1 A-10) also started off with a tie against Rhode Island. Fordham plays the Minutemen on Oct. 1 with the electrifying Nathan Simes, who was recently named A-10 co-rookie of the week and has five goals this season, providing a challenge for the UMass defenders.

The Colonials (3-2-2, 1-0 A-10) ranked near the bottom in the A-10 in the preseason poll. They’ve gotten off to a respectable 3-2-2 start this season. Graduate student Oscar Haynes Brown is George Washington’s best player for the past few years and this season is no different. Despite only recording three goals and one assist so far this season, his contributions on offense are not to be overlooked.

The Minutemen return home for a game against UMass Lowell at 4 p.m. on Tuesday before resuming conference play on Saturday against Duquesne.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected].

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