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 loses to VCU 1-0

Minutemen give up goal in 87th minute
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2023)

For the second straight game, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team gave up a goal in the closing minutes, this time losing to Virginia Commonwealth at Rudd Field. UMass (3-4-2, 0-2-0 Atlantic 10) conceded in the 87th minute to VCU (1-3-4, 1-0-1 A-10), snapping the Minutemen’s 15-game unbeaten streak at home dating back to Oct. 9, 2021.

The Rams’ William Hitchcock scored a header off a corner kick from Gerardo Castillo, resulting in another tough defeat for UMass. In the Minutemen’s previous game last Tuesday against Holy Cross, they gave up a late goal in the 85th minute also resulting in a loss.

“We did really well, we were playing I think maybe the best team in the conference,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “I felt we created some good chances particularly in the first half, we didn’t take our chances. I feel for our team today because we physically competed, we stood up against a terrific team with great technical ability.”

After the Rams scored, Alec Hughes had a chance to tie the game in the 87th minute, aggressively charging to the goal before being knocked down right in front of the net after contact from the VCU defenders. There was no penalty kick called on the play leaving Hughes in disbelief and ultimately resulting in a yellow card for him after yelling at the referee.

“We defended a lot against a really good team,” O’Leary said. “What counts in the box is the first contact and it’s a cruel game, they had 11 corners, we got the first contact on 10 but unfortunately to get a clean sheet you need to get the first contact on all 11 and they came first once.”

Despite going scoreless for a third straight game, Hughes generated several opportunities and led the Minutemen attack. Hughes was tops in shots and shots on goal for UMass, putting up four on goal and attempting five shots overall. No other UMass player had a shot on goal.

“[Hughes] does so much work for us,” O’Leary said. “The difference between Alec now and Alec as a freshman, if he scored he had a good game, if he didn’t score there wasn’t much more to it. Now he does so much unselfish work it goes unnoticed for our team.”

The first 86 minutes of play were mostly back and forth, with both teams looking dangerous at times but ultimately not able to convert on their opportunities. UMass certainly had chances in the game but all were saved or missed the mark. Overall, the Rams outshot the Minutemen 13-9 in the game.

Rams goaltender John Ermini put in a solid afternoon of goalkeeping, keeping a clean sheet against the oftentimes dangerous Hughes and UMass attack. Most of Hughes’ shots on goal came deep in the box right in front of Ermini. Hughes had a shot in the 78th minute aimed at the bottom left of the net that was saved by Ermini. Early in the game in the 17th minute, Ermini survived two close-range shots from Hughes that were both deflected and saved.

The loss put UMass at 0-2 in the conference, which it’ll be disappointed with considering how close the Minutemen were to securing a draw and at least putting something positive into the standings on Saturday.

“I think we’re creating chances, we just got to go back to taking chances and we want to get back to getting clean sheets and shutting teams out. Those are the two things we’ll work on,” O’Leary said.

UMass will be back in action on Tuesday, Sept. 26 to face Vermont at Rudd Field. Kick-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected].

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