Boino’s blast gives UMass men’s soccer sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10

By Thomas Johnston

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

In a game that would determine sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 conference, neither the Massachusetts men’s soccer team (10-2-3, 4-0-1 Atlantic 10) nor Rhode Island (8-3-3, 3-1-1 A-1) were ready to walk away without a victory.

After an intense 90 minutes of action, neither side could gain an advantage, sending the game into overtime with the teams knotted at one.

Just four minutes into overtime, junior Kevin Boino collected a ball off of a Ram defender’s header a few feet from the sideline. Standing about 20 yards away from the net, Boino made a move toward the endline, then blasted the ball off his left foot toward the net.

The ball zipped through the air toward Rhode Island goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm. Leifhelm leaped for the ball, but the shot came in so fast that it sailed just inches over his outstretched hands, burying itself into the top right corner of the net to give UMass a 2-1 victory.

“The two forwards fought hard to win the second ball,” Boino said. “It was a lucky break off their defender’s header and I just took it and finished it.”

When Boino got the ball off the header, there was little doubt about what he would do with it.

“I wasn’t going to pass it, honestly,” Boino said. “I wanted to shoot it so I took the chance. All the credit to the defense, they fought hard the last 10 minutes of the second half and got us to the overtime.”

The goal was the junior’s first of the season, and came while he was moved up to the forward position. Boino started his career with the Minutemen as a forward, but after losing seniors to graduation in the back end, was asked by coach Fran O’Leary to play defense this season.

“I think our two starting forwards, Jack [Fulton] and Davis, had run their legs out,” O’Leary said. “We felt going into overtime we needed some fresh legs, so Michael [Rita] came in and gave us a big boost. Kevin came in and obviously scored a terrific goal.”

Boino has been prepared all season to play whatever position O’Leary asks of him.

“I’ll go anywhere coach tells me and give guys breaks,” he said. “When he asked if I wanted to play defense, I said of course.”

URI got on the board in the 33rd minute on a goal from Chae Brangman. The forward was able to slip through the defense and found himself one-on-one with UMass goalie Bardia Asefnia, where he won the battle and found the back of the net.

The Minutemen answered in the 52nd minute, when defender Casey Hamill drew a foul just outside of the left end of the box, where Jack Fulton took the free kick. The junior bent it through traffic where it trickled its way into the bottom right corner of the net to tie the game, and the score held until overtime.

UMass and URI entered the game tied with 10 points for first place in the A-10. The win gives the Minutemen a one-point conference lead with just three games remaining.

“It’s a little surreal,” Boino said. “We didn’t really expect to be in this position. We’re just taking every game one at a time and making sure we get points out of it.”

The win also extends the Minutemen’s unbeaten streak to nine, and advances them to a stellar 9-0-1 at Rudd Field on the season.

While this was a huge win for his team, O’Leary understands that the season is far from over.

“Still three games to go,” O’Leary said. “Just got to get onto the next one now. We go on the road for two games against two very good teams. We’ll just see if we can find a way to get more points.”

UMass travels to Ohio on Saturday, where they face off with Dayton in hopes of keeping its unbeaten streak alive.


Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.