Minutemen looking to continue hot start against BU

UMass is coming off a 4-0 win in home opener against Sacred Heart

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Minutemen looking to continue hot start against BU

Mehroz Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

Mehroz Kapadia

By Javier Melo, Assistant Sports Editor

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Following back-to-back wins to start the season, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team is looking to ride the momentum and continue its hot start Saturday against Boston University.

The Minutemen (2-0-0) are coming off a 4-0 win against Sacred Heart in their home opener following a 1-0 season-opening win over Northeastern. UMass will have its hands full with BU (0-2-0), who have beaten the Minutemen three out of the past four years. The Terriers are coming off 1-0 defeats at the hands of UNH and Boston College, two strong sides.

“We just want to compete and keep trending up,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said. “We want to show improvement. BU’s a very well-coached team. We’ve lost to them three out of four years. They’re a very strong program. They played close [against] two of the better teams in the country so we’re going to have our hands full.”

UMass’ focus has been on decision-making and keeping concentration. The Minutemen are a young team, and losing focus and concentration can often be a byproduct of having so much youth and inexperience on the field.

“What we look for is, like all games, is that we compete―that we think,” said O’Leary. “We’ll try to out-think them, we’ll try to out-work them, but it’s important that we think and we make smart decisions, defensively and in possession.”

While the Terriers have yet to get a one in their win column, they are still a very good team. Holding teams like UNH and BC to just one goal apiece is no easy task, and the BU backline is very skilled in denying opportunities in front of goal. The front line for the Minutemen dominated against Sacred Heart, but those same opportunities will likely not present themselves on Saturday.

“Well, we scored four the other day,” said O’Leary. “Our two strikers, well, really three strikers, James [McPherson], Quinn [Serafino] and Logan [Brown] came in up front, all scored goals. There are definitely goals in us. We know it’s going to be more challenging against a very good BU team, but that’ll be the fun of it.”

The Minutemen have had a good start to the season defensively. They have yet to allow a goal in two games, and the defense, anchored by goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin, has looked solid and composed every time the ball reaches their half. Against a BU team that goes heavy on crossing the ball, the defense will have its hands full, specifically in the middle of the box.

“We have a nice routine of, when crosses go in, we have a specific spot we have to be in like the danger zone, 10 by eight, just keep the ball out of there,” defender Graham Brenner said. “That’s where most goals are scored, so you just get back there when the ball goes wide and if it goes wide, just step up. It’s very simple.”

The attacking partnership between McPherson and Serafino has been stellar for the Minutemen to start the season. The two are very hard workers who press heavily whenever they have the ball in the opposing half. They also play off of each other well, laying balls off and making successful runs together. Their chemistry has been great so far and a continued effort from that partnership could prove to be huge for UMass on Saturday.

“Quinn, he came in as a freshman and he’s very good, very athletic, very good up top―he wins headers,” McPherson said. “He’s just a very good player. Having him out there makes me a better player which is awesome. We came in as forwards and we’re still forwards and we plan on scoring goals just like we did in high school.”

It isn’t just the forwards who have formed an impressive partnership. Midfielders Chandler O’Dwyer and Eli Cronin have been stabilizing forces in the center for the Minutemen, and their presence has been felt both offensively and defensively.

“They’re just two of the hardest working people on the field,” said McPherson. “They run multiple, multiple miles a game. They back me up whenever I do something I’m not supposed to do. They’re just crazy. They don’t stop running, they’re strong, they’re calm, they’re physical―they are everything you want in a midfielder.”

The game is scheduled to start at Rudd Field at 1 p.m.

Javier Melo can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @JMeloSports.