UMass continues to roll with 5-2 win against Rhode Island

Hanya tallies three assists

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

By Richard Rodgers, Collegian Staff

Following their first draw of the season against La Salle on Wednesday night, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team came out with a vengeance defeating La Salle 5-2 on Saturday. It was a complete effort from start to finish for the Minutemen (5-0-1, 1-0-1 Atlantic-10) as they never relinquished control of the match.

Freshman forward Alec Hughes got the scoring started early for UMass as he broke through in the sixth minute of the match on an assist from senior forward Yasuke Hanya. Hughes then found the net again in the 19th minute on another impressive assist from Hanya. Hughes has had a breakout freshman season tallying four goals and two assists to this point. Hanya is tied for the lead in points on the team with five, adding 16 shots and six assists so far this season.

“He’s terrific,” UMass head coach Fran O’Leary said of Hanya. “He’s at the center of most everything we do. He’s unselfish. He’s hard-working. He’s a terrific team player.”

In the 33rd minute of the match, junior defenseman Zach Drayer struck first for Rhode Island bringing them within a score. Then in the 42nd minute, Tyler Mann scored his third goal of the season on yet another assist from Hanya. The Minutemen went back to the locker room with an 8-7 lead in shots taken.

UMass took even more control of the match in the 51st minute. Graduate forward Filippo Begliardi Ghidini continued his stellar debut campaign with the Minutemen scoring his third goal of the season on an assist from freshman midfielder Nick Zielonka.

“I’m just very pleased to come away with the win and come away with three points,” O’Leary said. “I thought our forwards led the way. It was a terrific performance by our front three and then Nick Zielonka came in and did a great job for us also.”

Last season, the Minutemen had a lot of difficulty finding the back of the net while their defensive effort often kept them in games. If anything, the opposite has been true for this season’s squad. The additions of Begliardi Ghidini and Hughes as well as the return of Hanya have given the UMass offensive attack a complete makeover.

“The difference is possibly we have more offensive weapons,” O’Leary said. “So you feel that we’ve got players that can score, players that can create and so far we’ve managed to put up some decent score lines. Before we get too carried away, we’ve got to win back-to-back conference games.”

As far as the defense goes, this match showed some growth for the team’s back four players. They held up well against a Rhode Island team that excels at generating scoring opportunities.

“We were up against two very good attackers for URI today,” O’Leary said. “They gave us problems. I thought our back four stood up to the challenge very well. I’m pleased overall. Anytime you win a conference game and score five goals you’ve got to be happy.”

The Minutemen currently sit on top of the North division of the Atlantic 10. They’ll look to start another winning streak when they take on Fordham at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Richard Rodgers can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RichardDRodgers.