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 men’s soccer falls to Duquesne 1-0 in A-10 opener

Minutemen outshoot Dukes 26-5 in loss
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2023)

With over two dozen shots for the visitors, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team could not find the back of the net and fell to Duquesne in Pittsburgh on Saturday, 1-0.

UMass (3-2-2, 0-1-0 Atlantic 10) dropped its first game of the conference schedule to the Dukes (4-1-1, 1-0-0 A-10) despite a large discrepancy in shot attempts, with the Minutemen attempting 26 shots and Duquesne only firing away five.

“Obviously disappointed with the result, when you have 26 shots to your opponent’s five and 11 corners to their two you expect to take something out of the game,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “I thought we did well to dominate the game, to create so many chances. Some better finishing and maybe a bit of luck we come away with a point tonight, but we didn’t so we got to move on and prepare for the next game.”

Late in the game in the 84th minute, defender Pierre de la Croix-Vaubois had a great look to tie the game with a long bomb aimed at the top of the goal, but the shot was saved by a leaping effort from goalkeeper Zoltan Nagy.

De la Croix-Vaubois, a Division-III transfer from Denison University has earned the trust of O’Leary and has now started four consecutive games with the absence of defender Matt Fordham in the lineup.

“[De la Croix-Vaubois] had a terrific shot at the end of the game that the keeper pulled off a great save,” O’Leary said. He adds a lot to us, he’s comfortable on the ball, he’s fast, and he’s a very competitive player. He’s been a pleasant addition to the team.”

Duquesne struck early in the game, with Ask Ekeland scoring a goal in the 11th minute on a wide-open net after a pass from Jayden Da went right past UMass goalkeeper Matt Zambetti. The goal gave the Dukes a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish over nearly 80 minutes of play.

The Minutemen played a fast-paced game, looking to get as many attempts into the box as possible. The 26 shots for UMass were its most in a game since October 15, 2022 against St. Bonaventure, when it also had 26.

“If over the course of the game you get 26 entries in the box that result in shots, we would like to think we would still finish enough to win the game,” O’Leary said. “They weren’t all high caliber chances but we got a lot of first contacts in the box, but we didn’t do a good job winning the second contact to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Forward Alec Hughes led the Minutemen in shots with six but it was the central defender Aidan Kelly who put the most on goal, with four shots on goal that were all saved by Nagy. Kelly’s four shots on goal and five total shots were both a career high, coming two games after he scored his first career goal against Providence. Kelly was particularly dangerous on set pieces, consistently lurking in the box looking to get a header into the net.

“[Kelly] just made a consistent performance, he was a threat on those set pieces, any time it went in the box he was definitely a threat…I thought he had a good game,” O’Leary said.

Hughes entered the game as the nation’s leader in goals with seven but couldn’t score for just the second time this season. He had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half.

Despite its first shutout loss of the season, UMass is encouraged by the amount of shot production and opportunities in the box.

“The guys had a lot of things right tonight, we just have to continue to sharpen our finishing,” O’Leary said. “Goals come in spurts for most teams, a couple weeks ago we were scoring threes and fours and goals were easy. Goals were hard tonight and it will turn again because we’ve got good players and we’ve got good goal scorers, so you go through little patches where they don’t go in. You just keep doing the right things and eventually it turns.”

The Minutemen will return to the field on Tuesday, Sept. 9 to face Holy Cross on the road. Kick-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected].

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