The Massachusetts men's soccer team needed to hang on for just four more minutes in a rain-soaked match Saturday against Saint Joseph's to force overtime.
But in the 86th minute, Saint Joseph's pressed up field and created one final chance.
Junior forward Mark Colville latched onto a through-ball from teammate Emmanuel Temeh and deftly lifted the ball over UMass goalkeeper Ryan Buckingham, effectively killing off the game 1-0 for the Hawks at Rudd Field.
For senior UMass (1-8, 0-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) captain Matt Keys, it was an all too familiar ending.
"It was the same story," Keys said. "We lapsed for just a minute and we were punished, but that's what good teams do. We just can't afford to make mistakes like that."
Initially, the Minutemen held strong against St. Joe's (6-2-3). UMass struggled to get a foothold in the first half as the Hawks were led by sophomore midfielder Sam Irvin, who controlled and possessed the ball well. However, despite a number of well-placed passes over the top of the UMass backline, intelligent and hard-nosed defending kept St. Joes from creating anything clear cut.
The best chance of the first half fell to UMass in the 36th minute, when junior Mark Morris intercepted a pass and charged in on goal only to have his one-on-one effort snuffed out by Hawks goalkeeper Bobby Edwards.
Play noticeably picked up in the second half as players gained their footing. Apart from the late goal, the Hawks closest chance came in the 58th minute. St. Joe's forward Mark Colville beat two UMass defenders down the right wing, cut inside, and took a hard shot that was covered up by Buckingham.
UMass responded with a handful of quick attacks down the right side led by junior midfielder Will Ellis, who constantly looked to whip crosses into the box in search of his on-rushing forwards, but ultimately to no avail. After the 86th minute goal, the 6-foot-4 Keys was moved up front, but not even the big target could break down the well-disciplined defense of St. Joes.
The poor field conditions surely played a part in the match making it difficult for players to keep their footing and control passes. But Keys made it clear that they don't want to look for excuses for the loss.
"Playing in rain like that is always difficult, but both teams play in it so it's not like either side had the advantage over the other," he said. "At the end of the day, they just played above us."
It was a disappointing start to conference play for the Minutemen, who were outshot 18-8 in the game.
"The most important thing is to not get down on ourselves," interim coach Devin O'Neill said. "When you lose it's easy to question what we've been doing, and to our guy's credit they haven't. But we need to focus on the positive things we did and try and get those positives going in the next few games.
The Minutemen will look to rebound on Wednesday night when they take on Hartford at 7 p.m. and will return to conference play on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Virginia Commonwealth University.