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Freshman Brandso seeing time after walking on to team

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team has nine freshmen on its 2009 roster, including freshman Morgan Brandso, a walk-on midfielder and defender. Brandso earned his first collegiate start on defense along with fellow freshman Dominic Skrajewski in Sunday’s 1-0 loss against St. Bonaventure, after playing in five games so far this season.

“I was really nervous and shaking, but once you get out there, I felt a little better,” Brandso said.

He has recorded two shots, including one shot on goal in five games so far this season.

Brandso, a Dartmouth, Mass. native, was a standout at Dartmouth High School, named Most Valuable Player in both his junior and senior years while recording 17 goals and three assists in 2008. After coming to UMass (6-6-3, 3-4-0 Atlantic 10) and impressing UMass coach Sam Koch this summer, he was given a roster spot, but was not promised anything.   

“I walked on and barely made the team, and I was probably going to redshirt this year, and then coach gave me a chance,” Brandso said.  “I’ve been working hard in practice, listening to the upperclassmen because they know better than me, and they know what to do, so I just listen to them. I’ve gotten some playing time here and there, and I’m just happy to be here.”

While seeing most of his time at midfield this season, Brandso dropped back and helped a strong Minutemen defense allow just one goal against an impressive Bonnies team. Skrajewski as well as Mark Dangleis, Andrew Henshaw and David Key were strong in containing the scoring attack, but UMass could not capitalize on some scoring chances by midfielder Ben Arikian and Chris Roswess on Sunday.

“Every week, we work really hard in practice, and it’s just the small stuff we need to work on, like taking shots and putting in the effort,” Brandso said. “It was a tough game, and I thought they outhustled us, and they’re a very good team.”

Along with Skrajewski and Brandso, freshmen midfielders Brodie Steigerwald and Tyler Brown have seen their minutes increase, especially with senior forward Mark DeSantis’s absence during the first few weeks of A-10 play. DeSantis returned to the pitch this weekend off the bench, and contributed to many offensive opportunities for the Minutemen. As for the freshmen, Koch feels that they have gotten up to speed and know what is expected of them, especially Brandso.

“They’ve worked hard in training, and they deserve some playing time. We’re not scoring a lot of goals, and we’re trying to get some guys in there, and I think Morgan has a good opportunity,” Koch said last week.

DeNormandie scoring

Redshirt sophomore Sam DeNormandie played in two games last season. On five shots on goal in 2009, the midfielder has scored on two of them, including the game winner of Friday’s 2-1 win over Duquesne. He has played in 11 games this year, starting in three, while mostly providing a spark off the bench for the Minutemen. However, Koch wants DeNormandie to continue placing shots on net in order to give UMass a different offensive threat other than DeSantis and Arikian up front.

Notes

DeSantis was honored as the only senior for the Minutemen prior to the final home game for UMass against the Bonnies on Sunday. His older brother, Mike was a midfielder for the Minutemen who helped the team to the College Cup in 2007. The Minutemen close out their regular season on the road against Richmond and George Washington next weekend before finding out about their A-10 Tournament chances.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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