Jason Kates of the Daily Collegian has a recap of Friday's thrilling and emotional 2-1 overtime victory over Fairfield in the home opener at Rudd Field.
That was the word interim Massachusetts men's soccer coach Devin O'Neill used to describe his team's first win of the season, a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Fairfield Friday afternoon in the Minutemen's home opener at Rudd Field.
UMass played with heavy hearts Friday. It was the Minutemen's first home game without longtime coach Sam Koch, who died in July after a two-year battle with cancer, in 23 years. And senior Josh Schwartz delivered the knockout blow for the Minutemen, finding the back of the net after being flicked on by junior Luke Pavone. Pavone assisted on both of the Minutemen's goals.
"It could've been anybody and I would've been happy," Schwartz said said after scoring his second goal of the year. "We've been working really hard for a couple of weeks now and it's good to finally get a win." O'Neill said his team played well despite a slow start.
"I thought it was a really good performance for most of the game," he said. "I thought we were a little bit tentative at the beginning, but we kind of grew into it after the first 15-20 minutes. "I'm really happy for the guys. It's been five games without a win and they've worked really hard. You want them to get rewarded so they get reinforced for the positive things, but they've been wonderful in terms of their day-to-day approach and how they've practiced."
It seemed like UMass (1-5) would remain winless after falling behind 1-0 in the 78th minute courtesy of a beautiful free kick by Stags (2-2-1) senior Jake Zuniga. But the Minutemen battled back and were rewarded when senior Matt Keys was moved up top and headed in the tying goal at the 86:38 mark.