Remembering UMass soccer’s Halloween miracle

A wild day of soccer saw the Minutemen sneak into the tournament


Collegian File Photo

By Ryan Beck, Collegian Correspondent

Trick or treat! It is Halloween day, and it’s the two-year anniversary of the Massachusetts men’s soccer team’s emphatic, playoff-clinching victory over George Washington. What a treat that day was for the Minutemen faithful.

The year was 2018, and the stakes could not have been higher. Just a season ago, the Minutemen had delivered one of the most memorable seasons in recent history, clinching the No.1 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament with an impressive 15-4-3 record, a tournament they went on to win en route to an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2008. Now, the Minutemen found themselves on the brink of elimination from the playoffs, going into their final regular season game with a 6-8-2 record.

After taking only two wins from their previous seven matches, the team needed an inspiration in its final and most important game of the season. In the 29th minute, Yosuke Hanna’s first career goal was the breakthrough that the team so desperately needed.

The half finished 1-0, and the Minutemen had done their job for 45 minutes, building an 8-3 shot advantage over their A-10 rivals. But the job was far from finished, a lesson the team had learned the hard way.

In their previous game against Dayton, UMass similarly held a 1-0 advantage at the break, and ended up losing 2-1 after two overtime periods. The Minutemen knew that they needed to come out strong in the second half, and they did just that.

In the 59th minute, top scorer Deandre Brown slotted home the Minutemen’s second of the day. Under one minute later, Davis Smith headed home another goal, extending the gap between the two sides.

The team was able to hold on for a 3-1 win, but their playoff fate was still out of the Minutemen’s hands. Luckily, the other results fell their way, and they clinched the final playoff spot as the No. 8 seed in the A-10 tournament.

The Minutemen went on to battle No.1 seed VCU in the quarterfinals of the tournament to a 1-1 draw, and it took 3 overtimes and a penalty shootout to separate the two sides. After failing to capitalize on a possible game-winning kick, UMass lost a heartbreaking 5-4 result in the shootout.

While the encore to their fantastic 2016-17 campaign was certainly a regression, UMass delivered an excellent performance for the Minutemen faithful on Halloween.

Ryan Beck can be reached at [email protected] He can be followed on Twitter @rybeck__7