Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s soccer keeps tournament window open with 1-0 win over Saint Joseph’s in season finale

Ryan Levay nets the only goal
Mehroz Kapadia
Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

Facing yet another must-win scenario, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team kept its playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win against Saint Joseph’s at home on Saturday afternoon.

With the match still scoreless at the halfway point, it was gut-check time for the Minutemen (7-10, 3-5 A-10). They needed to play an excellent half and come away victorious to keep their playoff hopes alive. Freshman midfielder Ryan Levay had given the team a lift on the offensive end earlier in the season and he came through again with a clutch goal in the 46th minute. It was his second goal of the season, capping off a solid freshman year.

“He’s an absolute bundle of energy,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “He’s not afraid and he competes. He’s a fierce competitor and nothing ever fazes him. He always gives one hundred percent for the team.”

Apart from the early second-half goal, the game was very closely contested. In the first half, the Minutemen got off six shots with two of them being on goal. The Hawks (5-12-1, 1-7 A-10) had seven shots in the first half, putting just one on goal. It was mainly a defensive battle as each side struggled to create high-quality scoring opportunities near the box.

“It wasn’t the prettiest one. I don’t think we played our best game today, but everyone did their jobs,” senior defender Ryan Saul said. “That’s the kind of game we needed and it’s a credit to our guys. We walked out of Rudd with a win.

UMass had to dig deep after Levay’s goal as they saw the Hawks get off a total of ten shots with four on goal in the second half. The Minutemen had just four shots in the second half, but all four were on goal. For the most part, they were able to control the pace of the match on their way to victory.

It was fitting that the Minutemen had to stay strong and communicate in order to win on Senior Day. Strong, veteran leadership has kept UMass afloat all season and it was a huge reason for the cohesiveness that the team displayed on Saturday.

“The seniors definitely pointed us in the right direction,” freshman midfielder Ryan Levay said. “They led us the entire way.”

Now, the Minutemen are forced to play the waiting game after qualifying for a potential A-10 tournament berth with their win today. The easiest path for UMass to make the tournament is Duquesne losing its match with Davidson and La Salle losing against St. Bonaventure. This scenario also includes the Minutemen needing either George Mason or George Washington to earn a point in their respective, evening matches, or both teams to lose.

“We’re in contention for a few more hours, but we’ll see what comes of it tonight,” O’Leary said. “We’re either going to be in or we going to be out, and the sun will come out tomorrow. We hope for the best, and we’ll get on with it and handle it either way.”

Their fate will be sealed by the end of the night based on the results around the conference. If the Minutemen do advance, the quarterfinals of the A10 tournament will take place next Saturday and Sunday.

Richard Rodgers can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RichardDRodgers.

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