UMass men’s soccer extends unbeaten streak to three with Saturday victory

By Jason Kates

Sam Anderson/Daily Collegian
(Sam Anderson/Daily Collegian)

After an abysmal start to the season, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team seems to be hitting its stride.

The Minutemen (3-10-1, 2-1-1 Atlantic 10) defeated Saint Bonaventure 2-1 Saturday night in Olean, New York, earning a vital three points on the road thanks to a two-goal performance from freshman Kevin Boino.

UMass coach Fran O’Leary said he was thrilled with the outcome, which saw the Minutemen jump to fifth in the conference with seven points and only three behind A-10 leader Dayton.

“I’m delighted with the win, it’s another three points in the conference,” O’Leary said a day after his team’s latest victory. “But particularly to win on the road is so important. If we’re going to end up continuing into conference postseason we’re going to need to take points on the road, and they were three very valuable points last night.”

Boino got his first goal in the 41st minute after he redirected a free kick from senior captain Will Ellis past Bonnies (1-13-1, 0-4 A-10) goalkeeper Luke Iacobellis for the 1-0 lead.

Fourteen minutes into the second half, the lead for the Minutemen was doubled when Boino finished off a two-on-one breakaway with senior Mark Morris.

O’Leary praised the play of his first-year forward.

“Kevin gave us a big boost,” he said. “He finished really well, a set piece from Will he got in front of the keeper and had a one-touch finish in the box before halftime. The second goal was just a break from our own half, a little link-up play with Mark (Morris) and he finished it excellently.”

Despite allowing a late goal in the 78th minute by St. Bonaventure freshman Kosi Nwafornso to cut the lead to one, the Minutemen hung on over the final minutes.

Although his team pulled out the victory, O’Leary recognized the fact that the Minutemen were unlucky to not score a couple more.

“It’s obviously a lot nicer than falling behind,” O’Leary said. “We went up 2-0 and were a bit unfortunate. Will (Ellis) had a terrific shot from 30 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar that could have put the game out of the reach. Alex (DeSantis) then hit the post, so with a little bit of luck we could have been three or four up and sailing. We gave up one late, but the guys responded with great resilience.”

With conference play in full swing, O’Leary said it’s exciting to see UMass perform the way it has over its last three contests.

“It’s very pleasing, I’m really pleased for the guys, they’ve hung in and are a tough bunch of guys,” he said. “We’re getting better, but that’s all we angle for and promised at the beginning of the year that we’d get better as we go.

He added: “Now we’ve got a little three-game streak going, we’re sitting tied for fifth in the league, and we’re going into the second half with all to play for. Our confidence is up but we’ve got some very tough teams coming up in the next couple of weeks.”

UMass will have the chance to build on its recent success Wednesday when it welcomes La Salle to Rudd Field for another conference affair.

“I think we just keep doing what we’ve been doing. If we play with the same courage and character, we’ll pick up some more results,” O’Leary said. “The finishing was particularly good last night, but I think the key is our mentality coming into these games.

“We’re on the front foot and we’re taking games to opponents. If we keep that up, I’m confident we’ll get a couple more results.”

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed @Jason_Kates.