UMass men’s soccer gets its first win of the season 2-0 at Sacred Heart

Joe Leslie secured a brace in the win

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Mehroz Kapadia/Daily Collegian

By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

After drawing against Northeastern in its first game of the season, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team bounced back on Monday, defeating Sacred Heart 2-0 on the road.

“Delighted with the win,” UMass (1-0-1) coach Fran O’Leary said. “It’s always hard to come away and get a result on the road. We had to work awfully hard to get this win and credit our goalkeeper and our back four for getting the clean sheet which was the foundation [for the win]. We definitely stepped up our performance level in the second half and turned up the pressure, so it was a nice to come away with a good result.”

It was a busy first half with both the Minutemen and Sacred Heart (0-2)  registering a combined 13 shots, but neither side could convert a shot into the back of the net. UMass’ goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin, a steady rock in net for the last few years, managed three saves in the first half against Sacred Heart. Dorchin went on to get his first clean sheet of the year.

The second half saw things change and swing the momentum towards the Minutemen. In the 59th minute after a free kick on the other end for Sacred Heart that failed to do anything, UMass broke out on the counter attack. Freshman Shizu Yohena made a clever pass from the far-right side of the box into the center where Tyler Mann was waiting for the pass and eventually was fouled. The referee awarded the penalty, and sophomore Joe Leslie stepped up to convert with a cheeky chip right down the middle, fooling the Pioneers goalkeeper.

“Big credit to Tyler Mann,” O’Leary said. “He made a long, hard run. Shizu played him a lovely ball but we wouldn’t have won [the penalty] if he had stayed outside the box. I think that was another improvement from the Northeastern game where we got more people in and about and into the box. That’s where the games are won and lost.”

The creativity of Yohena and the finishing ability with Leslie was what won the Minutemen the game. Yohena’s clever ball into the box helped catapult the squad to victory and helped Leslie convert his first goal as a Minuteman. Leslie finished the game with a brace and his impact was felt throughout much of the second half.

The back four provided a backbone for UMass on Monday. The defense kept its first clean sheet of the season which proved vital in a narrow game. The duo of Graham Brenner and Nathaniel Cardoza, two seniors, have been a pair to be reckon with in their time with the Minutemen.

“Each of them today put in 90 minutes,” O’Leary said of the back four. “They did a terrific job in the recovery. They are a mature group, and they look after themselves in the last few days and that’s allowed us to get 90 minutes out of each of them. We were a little tighter and more confident as a result of that today.”

In the 88th minute of the game Filippo Begliardi Ghidini played a nice ball through to Leslie who tucked away the shot into the right corner of the net to give UMass a nice cushion and seal the game shut.

UMass next takes on Boston University on the road with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FrederickHIII