UMass Sports Recap – First Half of September (9/26/19)
For our first blog post of the year, we will be summing up UMass’s sports to start the fall semester, including Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, and Field Hockey. Go UMass!
The Walt Bell era has gotten off to a rocky start, as the Minutemen are still looking for their first win in his debut season. In their first three games, UMass was outscored by its opponents 145-58, as highlighted by a 41-0 run by Rutgers in the season opener, a 35-0 run by Southern Illinois in the team’s second matchup, and a 28-0 run by Charlotte to start their game last Saturday. The Minutemen then followed these outings up with a 62-28 loss at home to Coastal Carolina last Sunday, where the team let up 35 points in the first half alone.
Corey Perrine, Getty Images
The main issue for the Minutemen has been their run defense, as they are letting up 279 yards per game on the ground alone, good for worst in the FBS this season. This was on full display last weekend when UMass let up 334 yards on the ground to Coastal Carolina, who had two 100-yard rushers on the day and three with more than 40 yards on the ground.
On the offensive end, the Minutemen have failed so far to find a consistent passing attack between quarterbacks Randall West and Andrew Brito. The duo is averaging 5.2 yards per pass attempt, which is good for fifth-worst in the FBS, and have failed to record over 230 yards passing in a game this season. Also, there is no Minuteman with over 200 yards receiving, with Zac Simon’s 168 yards leading the team.
The Minutemen’s rushing attack has been the team’s silver lining in 2019. UMass is averaging 137.5 rushing yards per game so far, and are led by the duo of Bilal Ally and Cam Robertson. Ally and Robertson have combined for 443 yards on the ground and have established an efficient presence within the offense.
Despite their record, UMass has had its fair share of exciting plays this season, most of which have come from cornerback Isaiah Rodgers. After two picks in the season opener against Rutgers, Rodgers ran back a punt against Charlotte 42 yards to the house, scoring as many touchdowns as the offense did on one play, in addition to a 55-yard kick return in the same game. He then followed up that performance with 240 kickoff return yards against Coastal, including one that he took 75 yards down the field. Rodgers is establishing himself as an electrifying playmaker for the Minutemen who can break away any time he gets his hands on the ball.
Up next, the Minutemen will be taking on the Akron Zips (0-4) tomorrow (September 28) at 3:30 PM at McGuirk Stadium. Akron has, by far, the worst rushing attack in the FBS this season, as they come in averaging 44 yards per game on the ground and just 1.6 yards per carry. If there is any time for UMass, who has the worst rushing defense in the FBS, to stop someone on the ground, it will be against the Zips on Saturday.
Following that matchup, the Minutemen will hit the road for a contest with the FIU Panthers on October 5 (1-3), followed by Louisiana Tech (3-1) the following week. Interestingly enough, FIU and Louisiana Tech played one another last Friday night at 8 PM, with Louisiana Tech winning by a score of 43-31.
Despite the Minutewomen’s subpar 3-4 start this season, their record does not speak for how competitive they have been. After a tough 7-0 loss to #14 ranked Ohio State in their season opener, UMass has not lost by more than one goal in any of their games. Additionally, all of their losses have come against ranked opponents, including their last two against #21 Albany and #14 Harvard last Monday.
The key for the Minutewomen so far has been their consistent defense, as they have allowed three or more goals just twice this season, with both coming against ranked teams in Ohio State and Harvard. Also, the Minutewomen already have two shutouts this season coming against Dartmouth and Saint Louis, the latter of which was last Saturday on the road.
Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics
Leading the way for UMass has been Georgie McTear, who is leading the team in goals (3), points (8), and shots (19) this season. Additionally, midfielder Sophie de Jonge and defender Josie Rossback have provided a stabilizing presence on the defensive end during each of the team’s seven games and their combined 830 minutes in 2019.
Going forward, the Minutewomen could establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with. They only have three ranked opponents left on their schedule, and these games could be winnable as well, considering their tough fights against ranked teams recently.
Up next for the Minutewomen is a tough test with #11 Saint Joseph’s tomorrow (September 28) at Gladchuk at 2:30, followed by another home game against Richmond (3-3) on Sunday (September 29). Saint Joe’s has established a potent offensive attack this season, as they’ve scored three or more goals in five of their seven games and have only lost to #23 Syracuse. This game will certainly be a test for the Minutewomen, who will look to ride their sound defense to their first win against a ranked opponent this year.
Nina Walat, The Daily Collegian
Consistency. That has been the word we can use to highlight our men’s soccer season so far. Sticking to their defensive philosophy and partnering with a quick and efficient attack, the Minutemen have had a solid start to their 2019 campaign.
With a 4-4-0 record, the boys in maroon’s record doesn’t speak for their dominance on both ends of the ball, scoring thirteen goals while only conceding five to their opponents. An even more remarkable feat was the three-game streak in which the Minutemen successfully kept the ball from entering the net for over 270 minutes of gameplay, something head coach Fran O’Leary will take loads of pride in.
Although we are just eight games into this season, beating Northeastern and Boston University were both huge wins and great confidence boosters for the squad, as the Minutemen put in two superb defensive shifts, shutting out both opponents and scrapping out two 1-0 wins against very strong sides. On the other hand, the team also put on their scoring boots for two matches against Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State, combining for ten goals scored and conceding none across both matches.
All of the Minutemen losses came in heartbreaking fashion, as the boys fell by just one goal each time. Even more frustrating is the fact that all the goals they have given up have come in losses, including four on their current three-game losing streak. However, the team’s current eight-goal margin speaks to their solid play on both sides of the ball and should lead to an above-.500 record going forward.
Through the first eight games, we have already seen several spectacular performances by some of the boys. With four weeks down, the Minutemen have already seen three players earn the UMASS Student-Athletes of the Week award and an Atlantic-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week title go to goalkeeper Marv Dorchin after two consecutive shutouts against Northeastern and Sacred Heart. Dorchin joins graduate defender Eric Eberl and sophomore defender Graham Brenner as the three players deservingly winning the student-athlete awards following great performances on the pitch. Earning The Militia Blog honorable mentions are James McPherson with three goals so far, and Chandler O’Dwyer, who leads the squad with four assists.
The Minutemen will open Atlantic-10 play on September 28 at 7:00 PM, as they visit Dayton (4-4) for the first conference match of the year. This will be followed by a return to Rudd on October 5 for a matchup against Saint Louis, who is also .500 this season. A couple of winnable games against teams with similar records may be all UMass needs to get their once dominant start to the season back on track.
Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics
Their record may not show it at first glance, but Jason Dowiak’s side is full of resilience and grit. Up until the last whistle, these women are ready to fight for the win and nothing less. This hustle has been prevalent all season long, but was at its best this past Sunday as the Minutewomen battled #21 Tennessee at home. In a very entertaining matchup, the team came back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 3-3 against one of the top teams in the country. What is most special about this team, however, is the sense of unity and teamwork they show on and off the pitch.
With a 3-3-2 record so far, the Minutewomen have done a good job so far, grabbing wins away at Providence (1-0) and Siena (3-2), while also grabbing a crucial first win at home versus Pittsburgh with a Melissa Kossler brace and eighty-sixth minute game winner. Despite a couple of hard-fought matches, the team also has three losses, as UMass saw themselves concede a late game-winner on their opening day at Boston College (1-2) and falling just short at Harvard and Richmond ( both 1-2). Also, with two draws against UMass Lowell (2-2) and #21 Tennessee (3-3), the girls have established that they are ready to compete against every team they encounter, regardless of the opponent’s rank.
With eight games down, the Minutewomen have had some amazing perfromances so far. UMass boasts two players as recipients of the UMASS Student-Athletes of the Week award and Atlantic-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week title. Melissa Kossler, with five goals and an assist through six matches has earned the Student-Athletes of the Week twice, while Rebecca Frisk earned the honor herself after a two-goal performance during a win versus Siena. Both were also the recipients of Atlantic-10 weekly honors. Peyton Ryan has also done a spectacular job between the sticks with a crucial penalty save at Providence and other great stops throughout the season, while Ansley Frasier has a team-leading three assists.
The Minutewomen are currently on a three-game road trip, starting with George Mason (2-5-1) tonight at 7 PM. This will be followed up by road matchups against Saint Joseph’s (3-5-1) on September 29 and a tough game against George Washington (6-1-2) on October 3, before the team returns to Rudd for a contest against Rhode Island (3-4-2) on October 6.