Freshman Connor DeVivo is on a hot streak.
Not only did DeVivo scpre the game-winning goal that extended the Massachusetts men’s soccer team’s undefeated streak, but the Chicopee, Mass. native was honored with the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week.
“[It’s a] good honor, [I’m ]kind of surprised, but I’m happy with it,” DeVivo said.
“We always knew he could shoot,” UMass coach Sam Koch said.
DeVivo hasn’t had much playing time with the Minutemen this season, so one must wonder if this recent string of success will have any impact on him playing more often.
“It’s tough, we’ve got to come out and practice everyday and that’s how we base our playing time,” DeVivo said. “I just come in and do my role. Coach talks about playing your role and if everyone does that, we’ll be successful. So I’m just going come in and do what I have to do when I come in and see how it plays out.”
Even though DeVivo has played in just five games and has yet to start, he has experienced the third most amount of games of the freshman class behind Tyler Cleverdon (12 played, 12 started) and Brett Canepa (14 played, none started).
“We know he’s a good player, it’s just feeling comfortable out there,” Koch said on DeVivo. “I think every time he gets out there, he gets a little more comfortable.”
The goal that earned DeVivo the weekly honor came in the 60th minute last Friday against Temple, one of the top teams in the A-10. As a substitute, DeVivo entered the game looking to simply play his role.
“[The goal] was good, [I] just came in off the bench,” DeVivo said. “I just played my role [to] see what I could do. Luckily the ball bounced my way and got a chance to shoot and finish it.”
Even though Koch’s substitution method could be called into question by sending in a freshman against a top team like the Owls, Koch’s motive was justified by his feelings towards DeVivo as a player.
“I mean he’s getting better and better every week,” Koch said. “He’s a hard worker in training. He’s a little inconsistent at times, but overall he’s getting better and better. We feel good about him.”
Like anyone else on the roster, Koch expects DeVivo to keep on improving with elements of his game needing work.
“He’s learning from the other guys around him, getting to play with them better,” Koch said. “[He’s] understanding what we’re looking for, [in terms of] speed of play and how important it is to know what you’re going to do with [the ball] before you get it. His one-touch passing has gotten a lot better and his vision off the ball has improved.”
Interestingly, in the five matches that DeVivo has played, only one resulted in a loss. Furthermore, three of the five matches have been away from home, as well as A-10 contests.
DeVivo might get another look at the pitch when he suits up for this weekend’s contests against Fordham and La Salle.
Herb Scribner can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.