Offensive firepower propels Minutemen to shutout win

All goals scored by Minutemen underclassmen

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Offensive firepower propels Minutemen to shutout win

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

By Michael Townsend, Collegian Correspondent

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With the aid of an explosive offensive day spearheaded by its younger players, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team routed Sacred Heart 4-0 on Monday afternoon at Rudd Field.

UMass (2-0-0) opened the scoring in the third minute off a rebound put in by sophomore defender Graham Brenner. Within 20 minutes, the lead had increased to 3-0 following freshman forward Quinn Serafino’s first career goal and another put in by sophomore forward James McPherson in the 24th minute. Sacred Heart (0-0-2) attempted two shots during the game but converted neither as the UMass defense went on to preserve the shutout.

“For all intents and purposes, the game was over by halftime,” UMass head coach Fran O’Leary said. “We didn’t know if the storm was coming and the game would only last 70 minutes, so we felt it was imperative to get a lead before the game may potentially be called. Fortunately, it wasn’t, but we definitely got the lead, we killed the game off early.”

Two UMass freshmen that saw significant minutes in the game scored their first career goals―Serafino in the 12th minute and defender Logan Brown, who made his second appearance at striker this season late in the game with the game already in hand. The impact of Serafino on the offense when he was in the game was evident throughout the first half offensive explosion and was immediately noticed by O’Leary.

“Quinn’s been great,” O’Leary said. “A very pleasant surprise―he can handle it physically, he’s strong, he’s brave, he’s athletic. I’m really pleased with how he’s coming along right now.”

O’Leary partially credited Serafino’s smooth transition into the Minutemen offense to McPherson. According to O’Leary, McPherson, who had faced Serafino prior to the college level, has been an important mentor figure for Serafino ever since the beginning of the preseason.

“James has been with us a year, so he’s a great mentor for Quinn,” O’Leary said. “The two of them get along, they like each other, they work well together. James often has his arm around [Serafino’s] shoulder just advising Quinn on what to do and where to go. It’s a nice little partnership they’re striking up right now.”

Despite the resounding victory, O’Leary believes his team still has work to do.

“It’s the second game of the season and we’ll still be improving until the last game of the season.”

While UMass succeeded in pulling out the early lead, the concentration level throughout the rest of the game was not up to O’Leary’s standards. However, O’Leary believes his team will continue to improve and form a more cohesive unit as the opposition grows tougher throughout the season.

“A lot’s going to happen early in the season. There’s going to be gaps in our zones―we’ll have to look at the video but we’re a lot tighter than we were two weeks ago and we’re going to be a lot tighter in two weeks than we are today.”

With two wins and no losses on the year so far, the dominant fashion in which UMass pulled out the victory gives O’Leary and the Minutemen ample confidence in their ability to have a successful season. The brilliant performance of the team’s younger players especially is a glimmer of hope for a team that experienced some setbacks after a 2017 bid that saw the Minutemen as Atlantic 10 Conference champions.

“If we get a decent performance and a win, it’s a deposit of confidence into the confidence bank,” O’Leary. “So we just made another little deposit. Guys are a little bit closer to the match fitness levels we’re going to need; it’s a good step forward. We have a lot to do these coming couple of weeks.”

After five days’ rest, the Minutemen will return to Rudd Field Saturday to face Boston University at 1 p.m.

Michael Townsend can be reached at [email protected]