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Slow start sees UMass men draw 0-0 at VCU – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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Minuteman winning streak ends at five

The lights were bright in Richmond Saturday night as the Massachusetts men’s soccer team kicked off conference play with a 0-0 draw against Commonwealth University of Virginia.

On a five-game winning streak, UMass (5-0-2, 0-0-1 Atlantic 10) looked unstoppable. Heading into the first conference game, the Minutemen scored his second-most goals in the A-10. Junior forward Alec Hughes led the conference in goals, points and shots on goal. However, VCU (0-3-3, 0-0-1 A-10) ended the winning streak with a scoreless draw.

It was a physical battle between two A-10 rivals on Saturday night. UMass seemed caught off guard in the first half as the Rams controlled possession for much of the first 45 minutes.

“It was like the second half,” Minutemen head coach Fran O’Leary said.

UMass made their move after halftime, but it was too late to record anything on the scoresheet.

“We come home with mixed feelings,” said O’Leary. “I’m a little frustrated that it took 45 minutes to make their lives difficult,” she said. [We are] I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t take the chance and get the three points.”

Despite controlling possession, VCU were unable to create many scoring chances. For most of half the meeting, the enemies felt each other. Neither team posed a threat to the opposing goalkeeper.

As the half progressed, the Rams began applying more pressure, keeping UMass on the back foot. The Minutemen raked in a few chances of their own, mostly from cleared balls. They were beaten as the Rams finished the half with eight shots, three of which were on goal.

However, it wasn’t UMass’ lack of possession that was the main concern at halftime, but the health of the goalkeeper. Senior Matt Zambetti fell to the ground with a non-contact injury after retrieving the ball between whistles.

After a quick meeting with the team’s trainer, it seemed like Zambetti could continue after finishing his quads. However, after VCU was just inches away from the game’s first goal, Zambetti was ruled out of the game.

Sophomore Alex Geczy replaced Zambetti. Having played in just one of his games this year, Geczy didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity. The Pennsylvania native finished the game with his three saves, including two beautiful diving his saves in the second half.

“Give a lot of credit [Geczy], he came in and played with poise and maturity beyond his years,” said O’Leary. “He’s a bright guy. He knows more about goalkeepers than I do.”

Returning to the pitch in the second half, the Minutemen searched for answers to the Rams’ defense that had caused them problems. UMass found its rhythm after Ryan Levay was yellow carded for unsportingness. The Minutemen had their first shot of the 10th minute and Aidan Kelly nearly grazed the top of the net.

This shot seemed to get the ball rolling, although it wasn’t very dangerous. In his next eight minutes, UMass had his six shots, two of which were on target. All the momentum went to the Minutemen, who were unable to find the net.

“The second half was day and night,” said O’Leary. “You need the ball to affect the game and you have to come first to get the ball. That’s what we started doing in the second half.”

UMass kept the pressure on VCU until the final second of the game. Nevertheless, filling the scoreboard with zeros and running out of time was not enough for victory.

“It’s always good to get something out of VCU,” says O’Leary. “To get the points, we really feel like we’ve kickstarted the campaign now. At least we have something on the board.”

The Minutemen will return home on Tuesday to face UMass Lowell. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm at Ruddfield.

Contact information for Jordan Meneo is: [email protected] Follow us on Twitter @JordanMeneo