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 beats Dartmouth 3-1 on the road, extends win streak to five

Alec Hughes nets a brace
Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian

A 2-hour lightning delay couldn’t keep the Massachusetts men’s soccer team from beating Dartmouth on the road 3-1 and reaching five wins in a row on Tuesday night.

In an eventful first half, the Big Green (1-2-1) got off to the better start as the Minutemen (5-0-1) struggled to keep possession. But that was swiftly negated by two goals in quick succession from UMass marksman Alec Hughes. Dartmouth pulled one back not much later, but Brad Moccio closed the deal for the Minutemen before the end of the half.

“Really, really happy with the performance,” UMass head coach Fran O’Leary said. “Dartmouth’s a very good team. Last few times we’ve come up here we’ve lost one-nil and lost early in the game, we conceded two early goals.

“We set out [Friday night] to win the first 20 minutes, and we were two up after 20 minutes. So, I thought the guys did a terrific job and then withstood a lot of pressure. Brad Moccio’s goal at the end took a little bit of the sting out of the game for us.”

Hughes’ performance showcased why teams have to gameplan for him. His brace against the Big Green meant he’s now scored five goals in six games, and it could’ve easily been a hat-trick. His running power and ability to lose his marker wreaked havoc for Dartmouth all game long. No one could push him off the ball.

In the 14th minute, Minutemen midfielder Jack Englebert played a ball over the top for Hughes, who took it first time with his left foot and lobbed the advanced keeper from far outside the box.

Six minutes later, Shizu Yohena placed a corner kick directly into Hughes’ head, who buried it in the back of the net from close range for his second goal of the game and fifth of the season.

“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” O’Leary said about Hughes. “He’s mature all the time. As I say, there were stages tonight where he was unplayable, and that’s a big compliment because he was up against good defenders. So, long may it continue. He’s got to dust himself off, get some rest and get ready for the rigors of conference play.”

In the 30th minute, Dartmouth’s Kristian Feed managed to cut the UMass lead in half with a powerful and precise strike to the bottom right corner of Matt Zambetti’s goal, putting it out of reach for the keeper.

Nevertheless, Zambetti had a remarkable performance in the game. The senior transfer from Virginia Tech showed quick reflexes, claimed balls coming into the box with authority, distributed the ball confidently with his feet and even saved a clear 1-on-1 chance for the Big Green. He ended the game with eight saves.

“Oh, everything – it’s his distribution, it’s just his maturity, there’s a calmness about his play,” O’Leary said about what he liked from Zambetti. “And he’s got superb reflexes, so he’s pulled off some key saves for us.”

Rain started falling hard in the back end of the first half, and eventually lightning forced a delay of at least 30 minutes. Two hours later, the players took the field again to finish the half underneath the heavy rain.

“We had to win that period, the guys had to stay focused,” O’Leary said. “It’s never easy but credit the lads, they kept the focus, they got some food and fluids and then they came out and saw off a very good Dartmouth team.”

In the 43rd minute, Moccio headed in his first collegiate goal off a rebound on a corner kick, extending UMass’ lead back to two goals.

The second half was a grind for both sides, but Dartmouth eventually established itself and seemed to infiltrate UMass’ 18-yard box with ease. The Big Green outshot the Minutemen 11-2 in the half and 17-10 in the game, but the visitors’ defense managed to limit those to low-quality attempts, holding on to the lead until the final buzzer.

UMass will open Atlantic 10 conference play on Saturday at Virginia Commonwealth University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares.

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