Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Massachusetts men’s soccer bounces back with road victory over Hartford

Smith and McPherson registered goals in the 2-0 win

%28Katherine+Mayo%2FDaily+Collegian%29
(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Liam Flaherty, Contributing Writer

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The Massachusetts men’s soccer team defeated Hartford in a decisive fashion on Wednesday night at Al-Marzook Field as the Minutemen (3-2-2) picked up their first road win of the season, 2-0.

Sophomore Davis Smith put UMass on the board with a header late in the first half, before freshman James McPherson doubled the lead in the 60th minute with a header of his own.

With Atlantic 10 play just two weeks away, the 2-0 victory over the Hawks (0-4-2) bumps the Minutemen over the .500 mark as they enter a crucial point in the development of their season.

“That was a really big win on the road,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said after the game. “We wanted to get a win on the road and another shutout [three of last four games], so we’re really happy.”

On a night that forced the Minutemen goalkeeper, Trey Miller, to make just two saves on nine shots, the redshirt freshman did not have to do much, but his play did have a big impact early on.

In the 28th minute of a scoreless game, Miller made a sprawling stop to keep things deadlocked.

“That was a really terrific save in the first half that allowed us to push on there for the win and go for the clean sheet,” O’Leary said. “It was a good night and a good performance by all of us.”

It took some time for the Minutemen to get moving on the offensive side of the ball to start, but the attack found its groove shortly after Miller’s timely save and quickly cashed-in for the lead.

With under 30 seconds left in the opening half, senior Jack Fulton sent a corner kick into the box, which Smith was able to track down and head into the back of the net to gain a 1-0 advantage.

“We just wore them down,” O’Leary said. “We just kept going. They came at us and had 10 corner kicks so we had to defend our box very well. As the half wore on, we began to get the upper hand and started to find some spaces. It was great to score a goal on the cusp of halftime.”

Coming out of the half, UMass picked up right where it left off when McPherson doubled the lead, thanks to a hustle play from Yosuka Hanya that led to his second assist of the season.

After beating a pair of Hartford defenders down the right side, Hanya drove a cross to the middle of the field that McPherson quickly headed past the dive of Jimmy Slayton to make it 2-0.

“[Hanya] laid on a terrific ball and [McPherson] finished it well,” O’Leary said. “It was nice to get the second goal because it was going to be important in the game. We were either going to get it and have a good level of control or they were get it and we were going to be on the back foot.”

McPherson’s tally made things more comfortable for the Minutemen entering the latter stages of the game, but the defensive unit did not seem to notice and continued its solid shutout efforts.

UMass returns to Rudd Field on Saturday for a 1 p.m. showdown with Central Connecticut State. 

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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