UMass men’s soccer earns huge statement win at Fordham Saturday

Brown’s eighth goal lifts Minutemen

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UMass men’s soccer earns huge statement win at Fordham Saturday

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Amin Touri, Sports Editor

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Every story has a turning point, and the Minutemen might’ve just found theirs.

Sitting at 1-3 halfway through the conference schedule and slotting in 10th in the league table, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team went on the road and picked up a massive win over Atlantic 10 powerhouse Fordham on Saturday, taking a Rams team that was nationally ranked just a week ago and shutting them out on their own field.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” said UMass coach Fran O’Leary. “We needed a road win, and we needed points badly. And to come to Fordham, who are one of the elite teams in the conference, get a clean sheet — as our assistant coach Ben Brewster said after the game, it was a familiar performance for a UMass soccer team. We were competitive, we were physically and mentally tough, and we shut out a very good team on the road. We held a lead, managed the game, and got three invaluable points.”

Senior DeAndrae Brown pounced on a Jack Fulton rebound in the 54th minute to poach his team-leading eighth goal of the year, and perhaps the biggest UMass goal of the season.

It was all the Minutemen (6-6-3, 2-3 A-10) would need, as Fordham (6-3-3, 2-2-0 A-10) pressed late with 10 second-half shots but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Sophomore goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin turned in an excellent performance between the goalposts, making six saves and holding his third clean sheet of the fall when UMass needed it most.

O’Leary went with experience above all on Saturday, rolling with eight seniors in the starting 11. It paid off, as the Minutemen held off one of the top attacking teams in the A-10.

“We need wins,” O’Leary said. “They’re almost like preliminary conference tournament games now, because we need wins. There was that attitude, that mentality, you just sensed it. We started eight seniors, so a lot of them have been around the block a bit, and you got the sense in the hotel and on the bus ride down that they didn’t want it to end.

“They’re a group that enjoys each other, we enjoy each other’s company, and with eight seniors out there tonight, they and the other boys put it in a very committed performance.”

Brown solidified his spot in the starting 11 with another huge goal on Saturday, which leaves him second among all A-10 goalscorers. Saturday was just Brown’s third start of the season, and it’s difficult to see him dropping to the bench the rest of the way.

“I think he’s the second leading scorer in the league,” O’Leary said. “He’s been a tremendous addition, I think it took a while for him to get up to speed as our expectations of our forwards and how we play, and he’s just growing stronger and stronger. Again, tonight, he came up with a very important goal.”

The work isn’t finished for the Minutemen, who still have three games to solidify a fourth-consecutive A-10 tournament bid, but Saturday’s win feels like the momentum swing the defending champions needed to get their season back on track.

“Time will tell,” said O’Leary. “We talked about it after, we’ve now got to build on it. We’ve got to win two of our last three, most likely, to make it in. That’s the challenge, we need more wins. We’ve got two games on Rudd now, including senior day to come, and it all sets up for Wednesday’s game now.”

UMass likely needs at least four or five points from its final three games to get to the postseason — seven or nine to have a chance at a home game in the tournament — but three big points put the Minutemen right in the thick of things in the middle of the table.

“If we can push on Wednesday, we’ll be a step closer. It was obviously a huge step for us tonight in the right direction, and I’m very, very proud of our guys.”

UMass will host Davidson at Rudd Field at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, before Dayton comes to town on Saturday.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected]ss.edu, and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.