• UMass opens the 2013 men's soccer campaign with four games away from home. The 71st edition of UMass soccer gets underway Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. ET in Peoria, Ill. against Evansville in the Hotels at Grand Prairie Classic. Two days later, the Minutemen will get a shot at the host school, Bradley, at 1:30 p.m. ET.
• Both opponents this weekend are members of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Valley finished the 2012 season with a league RPI of No. 7, including four teams in the top-100 - former league member Creighton (6), SIUE (37), Evansville (83) and Bradley (100).
• The Minutemen return 13 letter winners and six starters, including leading scorer Josh Schwartz. The junior forward led the Minutemen in points (12), goals (5), assists (2) and game-winning goals (2) in addition to being named Academic All-District. Second-leading scorer Matt Keys (3 goals, 1 GWG) will anchor a defense that lost half of its back four to graduation and all of the team's minutes in goal. Redshirt freshman Nick Ruiz is expected to get the start on Friday.
• Evansville is coming off a 9-8-1 season and returns 10 starters and nearly 90-percent of it's goals scored in 2012. The Purple Aces were picked to finish second in a vote of the Missouri Valley Conference coaches while garnering a pair of first-place votes. UE has a pair of strong sophomores in Faik Hajderovic (5 goals, 5 assists) and Mark Gonzalez (5 goals, 1 assist) leading the way on offense. Defensively, juniors Patrick Hodges, Charlie Macias and goalkeeper Eric Teppen who were each honorable mention all-MVC selections in 2012 should provide a formidable back line to challenge the UMass attack.
• UE played a pair of exhibition matches last weekend, defeating Belmont 3-0 on the road in Nashville and returning home to Indiana where it played Indianapolis to a scoreless draw.
The Last Meeting
October 1, 2011
Canepa Goal Gives UMass 2-1 Win Over #19 Bradley
Brett Canepa scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute of play as the UMass men's soccer team defeated the No. 19 Bradley Braves on Saturday afternoon at Rudd Field. Andrew Henshaw scored the opening goal of the game for the Minutemen, while keeper Shane Curran-Hays made seven saves in goal.
• Bradley also returns 10 starters from a year ago and was selected fourth in the MVC poll with two frist place votes of its own. The Braves were 10-6-4 tied for third in the MVC standings (with Evansville) as both squads sported matching 3-2-1 league marks. Despite losing their top two scorers from 2012, they return six players that scored multiple goals, led by the senior trio of Wojciech Wojcik (3 goals, 4 assists), Ross Williams (2 goals, 6 assists) and Scott Davis (3 goals, 1 assist). Senior goalkeeper Brian Billings, a two-time all-MVC honoree, will anchor the Bradley defense between the pipes. The Braves are also receiving votes in the NSCAA's preseason poll.
• The Braves defeated UMKC 4-2 in a 120-minute exhibition contest on Saturday in Kansas City. True freshman Christian Okeke had a pair of goals, while Wojcik and Alon Badat each had one.
Schwartz Named Preseason All-Atlantic 10
• Junior F Josh Schwartz was among 27 players named to the preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference team by College Sports Madness. Schwartz was listed among the four second team forwards and the only UMass player.
• The Annapolis, Md. native led the Minutemen with five goals, two assists and three game-winners a year ago. He was also named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District team.
O'Neill Returns To Face Former Team
• Second year assistant coach Devin O'Neill is returning to his old home this weekend with a trip to Bradley. The West Springfield, Mass. native was an assistant to coach Jim DeRose from 2010-11 and recruited many of the current players on the Braves' roster. BU went 26-15-5 - including 15 wins in 2011 - and made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
Sidibe Finishes First Professional Season With USL Kitsap Pumas
• Former midfielder Hellah Sidibe recently completed his first season of professional soccer. He appeared in 11 games for the Kitsap (Wash.) Pumas of the United Soccer League's Premier Development League. The four-year letter winner from 2009-12 took four shots on the year as he averaged just over 50 minutes/match.