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 falls short to Davidson on the road, 1-0

Minutemen’s A-10 tourney hopes take a hit
Shilpa Sweth/Daily Collegian (2022)

Still in search for that final touch of quality in the attacking end, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team hit another roadblock in its Atlantic 10 tournament aspirations with a 1-0 loss to Davidson on the road Saturday.

The game was crucial for the Minutemen (6-2-7, 1-1-5 A-10). They needed to get points against a Wildcat (5-8-3, 2-4-1 A-10) squad that’s tied for the most losses in the conference, but left empty-handed after a performance full of heart but lackluster in quality.

“I thought that our team gave a really good performance [Saturday],” UMass head coach Fran O’Leary said. “The attitude, the commitment was excellent. You know, we’ve come away with a one nil loss. We hit one off the underside of the crossbar in the first half that looked like it was in the net. And then we hit the crossbar in the second half again, Shizu [Yohena].”

“I can only compliment our guys today. I thought their attitude and the way they approached the road game was very, very good,” O’Leary said.

The only goal in the match came in the 26th minute when Connor Smith put a low-left shot from inside the box past UMass goalkeeper Matt Zambetti.

Davidson outshot the Minutemen 15-13, including 6-3 in shots on goal (5-1 in the first half). Zambetti finished with five saves in the match, as forward Nick Zielonka finished with four shots. Andrew Ortiz and  Yohena both hit the woodwork after the home team took the lead.

Ever since conference play began, the Minutemen have looked just a bit short both on offense and defense, and Saturday was no different. Now six out of their seven conference games are draws and a one-goal loss.

Defensively, the Wildcats hadn’t achieved a clean sheet for six games, but their backline held their own against a UMass team that struggled to get deep into the attacking third. Just three out of the Minutemen’s 13 shots came from inside the box.

O’Leary said Alec Hughes played well, but credits the hosts’ “big, strong defensive players,” who took care of business at home. Once again, UMass lacked a player with ability to break the lines with dribbling and through balls.

“I thought we competed well in the game, and possibly [lacked] a little bit of quality in the final ball, quality of finishing,” O’Leary said. “But it was important that we showed we still had energy levels to compete and I thought we did well today.”

Davidson came into the game with two ties and three losses in its last five games, but it is a better team than the record shows. It’s never easy to pull apart a team that can sit back in a low block and comfortably absorb pressure.

“We spent a week trying to work [Davidson] out,” O’Leary said. “They’ve obviously had a couple of close ones, but they’re a well-coached team and they’ve got some talented players. So it’s a disappointing result for us. We’ve just got to move on and get a win next weekend.”

Three points separate the fourth and 12th teams in the conference standings, where the Minutemen are seventh and Davidson 11th. Most other teams also have a game in hand, which means UMass is likely to drop further down the order.

But by no means is it over yet. The Minutemen must beat Dayton, the only undefeated team in the A-10, if they want a spot in the conference tournament. It’s not impossible, but certainly a daunting task. If they do so, they’d reach 11 points in the season, which would’ve been enough to get in the tournament last season.

“Well, I think [this loss] means we need to win the last game and I think 11 points will be competitive,” O’Leary said. “We’ll obviously have to see how results go tonight, but I think 11 points is going to leave us in the mix. So we’ve just got to find a way to beat Dayton next weekend.”

UMass will conclude its road trip with a game against reigning national champions Clemson in North Carolina. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Monday.

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *