Underclassmen show in UMass home opener

James McPherson, Quinn Serafino and Logan Brown scored first goals of the season

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Underclassmen show in UMass home opener

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Javier Melo, Assistant Sports Editor

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The youth was on display for the Massachusetts men’s soccer team as they defeated Sacred Heart 4-0 in their home opener.

The Minutemen (2-0-0) had all four of their goals scored by underclassmen. Sophomore Graham Brenner opened the score sheet early, his first with the program. Sophomore James McPherson scored his first goal of the season later in the half, slotting a ball in the 23rd minute. Freshmen Quinn Serafino and Logan Brown each scored the first goals of their collegiate careers in the game to bring the total to four goals against the Pioneers (0-2-0).

“Two freshmen and two sophomores,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said. “I think we’re going to share our scoring around all season. I think it’ll be different guys on different days. Today it was a few of our young guys, which is great for our future. I think going to share the load around as the season goes on.”

James McPherson saw a fair bit of play last season for the Minutemen, starting in three of the eight games he appeared in, contributing two goals and three assists. After graduating three senior forwards, McPherson was primed to take over in the attacking role. In only his second year with the team, McPherson has made an effort to step up to that leadership position and make sure that the freshmen on the team feel as comfortable as his predecessors made him feel.

“Last year coming in we all kind of just clicked, us freshmen,” McPherson said. “We all liked the collaboration and the comradery on the team and obviously the new freshman we want them to come in and feel exactly how we felt. Especially when there’s ten of them… Having that comradery makes us want to play better and it makes us want to work harder.”

Quinn Serafino, who was starting his second straight game for the Minutemen, scored his first collegiate goal in the 12th minute. Serafino has a very high work rate and finds chances for himself through his ability to attack the ball. After scoring his first goal, the freshman was mobbed by his teammates who were eager to share the moment with their budding star.

“At first it was unbelievable,” said Serafino on his goal. “I didn’t think it was going to go in. I thought the goalie was going to get a hand on it and then afterward it was like a sigh of relief because first, I didn’t choke, and second, I got it out of the way. Now I’m just hungry for more.”

It isn’t only the players that he’s impressed. O’Leary has been impressed with the progress that Serafino has made in his first year with the program.

“Quinn’s been great,” said O’Leary on the promising freshman. “Very pleasant surprise. He can handle it physically, he’s strong, he’s brave, he’s athletic. We’re very pleased with how he’s coming along right now.

Logan Brown isn’t your typical striker. The freshman came into the program having been a center-back his entire soccer career. In his two appearances in the attacking role, he has now produced a goal in just shy of 40 minutes of combined game time. His goal was another that was celebrated by the team, displaying just how close the group is with each other.

“It’s great,” said Brown on scoring his first goal. “It’s something special. Especially, being a center-back and Fran trusting me and putting me up top and just doing something that a striker does but doing it in the second game of the season it just feels special.”

The group of young players has meshed well together for the Minutemen. The underclassmen have come into an environment that has enabled them to grow as players and if the first two games are any indication, continue to produce wins for the program.

“I think it starts with Fran and it starts with the upperclassmen just putting trust in us and making us feel like a family just from the start. From the first day bringing us in as a team and not making us feel like we’re left out at all. Coming in as a freshman that just feels amazing―coming in straight away and be trusted by the guys around you.”

UMass looks to build on its hot start when it hosts Boston University Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rudd Field.

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