It was déjà vu for UMass on Wednesday, as the Minuetmen lost to Hartford University 2-1 in an overtime thriller. In the 5th minute of overtime, Hartford's Romario Jones scored his second goal of the game, pouncing on a loose ball inside the Minutemen box.
UMass (1-9) started the game with an attacking mindset, sending 6-foot-4 senior defender Matt Keys up front to be a target center-forward, proving to be a handful for the Hawks (5-4-2) all night. The Minutemen nearly took an early lead in the 10th minute when sophomore Luke Pavone drew a penalty kick. However, senior forward Josh Schwartz was unable to convert, seeing his shot saved by Hawks goalie Scott McKirgan. Just two minutes after the penalty miss McKirgan came up huge again, this time stopping a breakaway effort from Keys.
The Minutemen were finally rewarded in the 34th minute when Pavone scored his first goal of the season. The move started when Pavone collected the ball just outside his own box, dribbled the length of the field and played a one-two with Schwartz. The midfielder then finished off the attack with a shot to the far post from 12 yards out.
The Hawks responded well in the second half by pressing high and throwing numbers forward. In the 57th minute, Hartford nearly leveled the score when a shot on goal cannoned off the crossbar. Just one minute later Hartford midfielder Omar Tall led another attack down the right wing and found teammate Romario Jones in the middle, who fired his shot into the far post past goalie Ryan Buckingham.
The game looked like it wouldn't need overtime as the Hawks had three corner kicks and three shots in final four-minutes of the game. But to the credit of the UMass defense, the Minutemen were able to keep Hartford off the board. Despite giving away the late goal in overtime, interim head coach Devin O'Neill feels his team is progressing in time for in conference play.
"I am really proud of the way my team played tonight. We've played well, not just hard these past few games and we have been in every game we played recently. So that is a good sign moving forward," said O'Neill.
The Minutemen will be back in action Saturday as it takes on Virginia Commonwealth University at Rudd Field at 1 p.m. in Amherst, MA.