Yosuke Hanya showcased his skills and leadership in loss to Penn State

The senior captain contributed to the only goal scored by the Minutemen

UMass+Athletics

UMass Athletics

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

Yosuke Hanya controlled play for most of the game with impressive foot skills and speed, creating multiple opportunities for UMass. With seven assists in 11 games this season, the senior captain proved his leadership and went out in style during Sunday’s matchup against Penn State.

After a tough first half where the Minutemen (7-2-3, 3-1-2 Atlantic 10) gave up three goals, the team took the field after the break with a different approach. Hanya began stretching the field and playing wider rather than more central, which challenged Penn State’s (9-2-1, 6-1-1 Big Ten) defense on multiple occasions.

“I thought he was the best player on the field,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “He’s a pretty special player and he’s brave.”

Despite not being the tallest on the field, Hanya’s courage spoke volumes as he jumped and competed against the opposing team, attempting to be first to the ball and gaining control in the air.

In the 53rd minute, Hanya beat the right defender, taking a shot that was deflected and found its way into the back of the net. The goal put UMass back in the running, and while it was still two goals down, a comeback now seemed more achievable.

Hanya continued to push forward in the top third of the field, showcasing his ability to find gaps in the defense and converting to either take a shot or pass to an open player. In the 73rd minute, Hanya received a ball in the air and was able to control it at the top of the 18. With his back to the defender, Hanya tricked him and instead of passing, he turned and took a powerful shot but was ultimately deflected.

“He is tremendously mentally tough,” O’Leary said. “We needed someone in the second half to give us a spark, and he gave us a big spark.”

Hanya’s leadership throughout this entire season helped the Minutemen thrive and reach their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. During the Virginia Tech game that helped solidify an at large bid for UMass, Hanya found himself playing center back, even though he is typically a midfielder.

“He’ll do anything for the team. He’ll play any position,” O’Leary said. “Your job is easy when your best player is a team player.”

Joining the team in 2018, Hanya made his mark being awarded to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. However, an injury uprooted his 2019 season, so he redshirted, and that allowed him to play with the Minutemen this year. His efforts this season were recognized by all and he was placed on First Team All-Atlantic 10.

Although the season has ended and UMass suffered a 4-1 loss to the Nittany Lions, Hanya’s performance deserves celebration. His speed allowed him to beat multiple defenders, dribbling through the middle or down the side. The defenders were fooled by his footskills and Hanya’s head was always up looking for an open teammate. The Minutemen controlled possession throughout the game and much of that is due to Hanya’s efforts.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sophieewellerr.