UMass remains unbeaten with 0-0 draw against Duquesne

Alec Hughes leads team with seven shots

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Marco Lopez , Collegian Staff

In a competitive game with multiple opportunities, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team battled Duquesne to a 0-0 draw on Saturday. The tie allowed the Minutemen to remain undefeated this season, marking their longest undefeated streak to start a season in program history.

Coming into the game, both UMass (5-0-4, 0-0-2 Atlantic 10) and No. 25 Duquesne (6-0-2, 1-0-1 A-10) were both undefeated and the two teams left the field in the same position. There were plenty of opportunities for both teams in the match, with the Minutemen putting up a season-high 19 shots against the Dukes. The UMass defense did a solid job preventing shots from Duquesne, limiting it to seven shots.

“I felt it was an A-10 game, very competitive, I felt like both teams showed up very strong defensively,” UMass associate head coach Ben Brewster said. “We had a few chances, especially in the first half and a couple in the second half that we didn’t take today. The effort and the commitment from the team was great.”

Alec Hughes, who has proven to be a key player for UMass this year, led the Minutemen with seven shots on the day.  His efforts were highlighted in the eighth minute after Shizu Yohena led the counterattack and passed to Hughes who went one on one with a defender and attempted a shot from the left side of the box that was just wide.

“[Hughes] had a great season, he’s a handful, he’s a handful out there,” Brewster said. “He had two or three fantastic chances and created a lot more. He’s such a key part of the team, I thought he was very strong today.”

Despite the high volume of shots from the Minutemen offense, they couldn’t get find the back of the net, as they tried to force a mistake from the Duquesne defense that has been spectacular so far this year. The Dukes came into the game tied for fifth in the country in goals-against average, allowing only three goals this season. Much of the praise can be given to Duquesne’s goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben, who ended the game with five saves.

“Unfortunate we didn’t put away one of our chances today, but I thought we did enough, we created a lot and were dangerous on set pieces,” Brewster said. “We created enough where we could’ve scored a few, just one of those days where it didn’t bounce in our direction.”

As the game neared the final buzzer, the Minutemen kept their foot on the gas pedal, trying to get a few more chances before time expired. In the final minute, Nick Zielonka had what was considered the best shot of the day, doing a spin move and attempting a shot from the top of the box that hit the right post.

Just seconds later, Hughes took a shot from the left side of the box that was just wide of the left post. Ultimately, the Minutemen could not put one in to claim its first conference win of the year.

“I thought we played well, I think it was frustrating that we couldn’t put one away after I thought we had the better opportunities to score than they did,” Hughes said.

UMass will travel to face Vermont on the road on Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected]