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UMass men’s soccer earns 3-1 win over Saint Louis in conference opener

(Katherine Mayo / Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s soccer team notched a big three points on the road over the weekend, earning a 3-1 win at Saint Louis to open play in the Atlantic 10.

Freshman Davis Smith scored twice for the Minutemen (6-2-2) to lift his side over a very strong Billiken (2-5-1) team that was coming off a massive win over No. 5 Stanford last week.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the performance and the result,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said. “Our guys were very resilient tonight, to come from behind on the road against a Saint Louis team that shut out the national champions Stanford last weekend is a great accomplishment. To come from behind and put three goals past them speaks volumes about the effort we gave tonight.”

UMass fell behind just six minutes in, as SLU junior Lennart Hein converted a penalty kick to give the Billikens an early 1-0 lead.

From there on, it was all Minutemen.

The SLU lead only lasted until the 17th minute, when Alex DeSantis equalized with his fourth goal of the fall.

Twenty minutes later, Smith fired home his first goal of the game, capitalizing on a Billiken turnover at the edge of the penalty area to put UMass up 2-1.

Smith would later put the game to bed in the 68th minute, finishing from a tight angle to make it 3-1 in favor of the Minutemen.

After a goal-less first six appearances, Smith has gotten going over the last couple of weeks, nabbing four goals in his last four games to really make an impact in his first season at UMass.

“Davis was terrific again,” O’Leary said. “They were very important goals and particularly the third goal of the game, his second, killed off the contest at a time where Saint Louis was putting us under a lot of pressure, so a terrific performance again by the big guy.”

It was an impressive offensive performance for the Minutemen, as they managed to put three goals past one of the best defensive units in the conference.

“I think it’s a collective effort,” O’Leary said. “We always say we defend from the front, and the offense is generated from the back, from defenders being brave enough to break pressure with a pass or two. We’re scoring goals and we’re not conceding many so it’s going well right now.”

The win is a perfect start for UMass, topping the defending regular season champions to begin the conference slate on the right foot.

“I think you have to perform and get results to gain confidence,” O’Leary said, “and we definitely performed tonight and got a terrific result against a team that won the regular season title last year. It’s a big deposit of confidence in the bank, and now we’ll put the conference to sleep and we’ve got to face a regional foe on Tuesday in Vermont, so we’ll be hyper focused on the Vermont game coming up.”

The Minutemen will host the Catamounts at Rudd Field on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Following the Vermont contest, it’s all A-10 play the rest of the season, as UMass will try and carry some confidence into the home conference opener against Duquesne on Oct. 7.

 

Amin Touri can be reached at atouri@umass.edu.

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