Cats split weekend series

It took a penalty kick by Zack Paul in the 68th minute, but Vermont defeated University of Massachusetts 1-0 in the finale of the Smith Barney Morgan Stanley Windjammer Classic at Centennial Field Sunday afternoon. The win gave the Catamounts a split for the weekend and put their overall record at 3-1-0 on the season.

Both teams brought their all on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and provided the crowd with 90 minutes of physical high-level soccer. It continued the hard-nosed effort Vermont played with on Friday during a 0-1 loss to Colgate.

Both teams played evenly through the first half and well into the second. It took a strong Vermont buildup followed by a Minuteman handball in the penalty box to set up the game’s only goal. Paul was selected for the kick and sent the goalie diving for the left of the net while Zack found the back of the right side.

Vermont’s defense, ranked first in America East, took the game from there, preventing Massachusetts from any real scoring chances. Junior goalie Dave Ramada stopped one ball on the day and posted his third shutout of the season.

In the Friday match against Colgate, both teams were well matched. Each team struggled out of the gate, stalling offensively.

Both were more poised in the second half and each had several scoring opportunities. With time running down, Colgate’s Jimmy McLaughlin was able to put a ball into the center of the Vermont penalty box and Mike Garzi beat Ramada to capture the victory.

Vermont coach Jesse Cormier said he felt after the first game that in the second half, the team, “came into it and started to figure out how to be successful and unfortunately couple mistakes at the end cost us.” Looking forward, Cormier said he wants his team to “continue [what we did in] the second half: more composure, connection and faster tempo with our passes and defense.”

The Catamounts did just that and beat Massachusetts for the first time in their last six tries. The Cats continue their homestand this weekend with a game Friday against Siena at 3 p.m. and Sunday against Harvard at 1 p.m.