It might sound obvious, but in the low-scoring game of soccer, one still needs goals in order to win games, and the Massachusetts men’s soccer discovered that the hard way last season.
Tallying just 14 goals on 202 shot attempts in 2015, UMass finished their first season under new head coach Fran O’Leary with a record of 5-13-1.
This year’s iteration of the Minutemen (0-2-1) has not done much to buck that trend just yet, scoring just once during the opening three games of the season, but O’Leary remains confident the team will have success as the season continues.
“I think we’ll score goals as we go. We were very unfortunate (against Saint Peter’s) we came up against a very hot goalkeeper. I think over the season we’ll score our share of goals,” O’Leary said.
One player who will be key to that goal production will be senior midfielder Ty Goncalves. As a captain and one of only three seniors on the squad, Goncalves will be a key part of the team as both a leader and someone who can spark the offense, scoring twice and tallying three assists last season, tied for the team-high in both points and assists.
“Over the course of the season, (Goncalves) is going to have a big role to play,” O’Leary said. “He was one of the catalysts for our run in the conference last season and we expect a lot from Ty.”
“He’s extremely important,” junior forward Alex DeSantis said of Goncalves. “Even if not on the field, and he is important on the field, but just keeping our team together and loving each other, he’s really great.”
Goncalves recognizes the need for him to help lead the team offensively, but he also knows soccer is a team sport and the Minutemen will need everyone to contribute in order for them to be successful.
“I think it’s obviously important, but everyone contributes,” Goncalves said. “Me and everyone coming off the bench contribute, everyone starting contributes, just everyone needs to come in and play their part. It’s not a one man thing.”
UMass will also be looking for some younger players to find an increased role in the offense this season. One player who has gotten the chance to do that early in the season is freshman forward Andrew Barrowman.
Barrowman has started all of the Minutemen’s first three games, tallying five shots over 242 minutes.
Goncalves has been impressed with what he has seen from the freshman so far.
“He’s been good, he’s great on the ball. I think he’ll definitely help on the offense. He moves the ball well, keeps the ball well, doesn’t lose it, so that’s always good up top,” Goncalves said.
O’Leary understands that as a freshman, Barrowman will have both good days and bad days, but he thinks the young forward help an offense that ranked 184 out of 202 Division I teams in goals scored last year.
“He’s young, he’s talented, he’s going to help us,” O’Leary added. “He’s a freshman so some days he’s going to help us a lot, and some days he’s going to look like a freshman, but he’s a talented player and I’m delighted to have him.”
Barrowman has the confidence that he will play an important role in giving the UMass offense a much-needed boost.
“What I can bring to the table is I can score goals, get in spots, as well as set other guys up to score,” Barrowman said.
If the Minutemen hope to achieve their goals this season, they will need players like Goncalves and Barrowman to improve the Minutemen’s scoring output and develop a more dangerous offensive attack.
Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]