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 defeats Davidson, 3-1

Alec Hughes records brace in Minutemen win
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

In a rainy matchup on Rudd Field, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team picked up a statement win that clinched the team a spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament in November. UMass (7-4-5, 4-2-1 A-10) came back from an early deficit to beat Davidson (9-3-1, 5-2-0 A-10), a team that came into the game as the No. 1 seed in the conference.

The Minutemen trailed early on with a penalty kick goal scored by Denis Krioutchenkov in the 10th minute. From then on however, UMass put up three consecutive goals, with two coming in the second half to seal a statement win in its home finale.

Overall, the Minutemen showed a complete performance on both ends of the field, notching three goals and limiting Davidson to just five shots.

“Davidson’s a terrific team, they really are, they’re an explosive team,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “Their two strikers are top strikers in the league, one is rookie of the year a year back, some really good players. And I thought our defense did very well…Davidson as a team has given up seven goals the entire season before today. And now our guys put three goals on them today, big credit to the team from Matt Zambetti in goal to the forward line.”

The game was tied for most of the afternoon until the final 12 minutes when UMass took complete control. First it was Alec Hughes in the 78th minute who scored off assists from Matt Zambetti and Nick Zielonka. Then in the 84th minute, another goal from Hughes assisted by Mike Willis sealed the deal.

“I think the thing that impressed me about [Zielonka and Hughes] is that Davidson is very good at retaining the ball,” O’Leary said. “And we needed a lot of unselfish play from our forwards, they had to put in a lot of what we call hard yards and a lot of unselfish running to curtail their offense…I thought they were fantastic today.”

After Davidson had scored 10 minutes into the game on a penalty kick, Nick Zielonka tied the game at one apiece with a goal assisted by Willis and Ryan Levay. Zielonka, who finished with one goal and one assist was instrumental in the UMass victory on Saturday.

“[Davidson is] definitely a pretty good defensive team but it was just about anticipating,” Zielonka said. “Like when [Willis] went for a header last game against Lowell there was a similar situation where he went up for the header and I kind of anticipated. So I kind of did the same thing, and ended up getting a chance to score and I scored.”

“The second one was just a challenge for the header, ended up winning it and Alec did the rest so it’s just about doing it every time.”

The win was important for UMass, clinching a spot in the A-10 playoffs and keeping the recent momentum going, now extending its unbeaten streak to seven games. A loss or draw would’ve meant awaiting the last week of results to see if it would make the cut.

“It means everything to us,” Zielonka said of making the playoffs. “I mean we’re going to give it our all. We’re going to take it game by game, we’re not looking too far ahead right now. I think if we keep doing the basics game by game we’ll have a shot.”

The Minutemen will wrap up their regular season on Saturday Oct. 28 when they visit Dayton. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected].


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