UMass’ constant aggression too much for Dartmouth

Minutemen fight from behind to pull out 2-1 win on Wednesday

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Reese Maple / UMass Athletics

By Eli Weisberger, Collegian Staff

The aggressive play of the University of Massachusetts men’s soccer team throughout the game paid off in a 2-1 comeback victory over Dartmouth (0-3) on Wednesday.

Although UMass (4-1-1) went down early in the game with a goal by the Big Green in the first half, the Minutemen never took their foot off the gas pedal, eventually leading to dominance in the second half.

The Minutemen were constantly pressuring the Big Green attackers on defense, causing Dartmouth to be very uncomfortable and out of rhythm offensively. Even though the Big Green’s shot total of 13 was one higher than the Minutemen’s shot total of 12, the amount of quality shots seemed to be much less than that of UMass.

The Minutemen managed to maintain constant aggression throughout the course of the game, and their discipline on the ball translated into two second half goals en route to victory.

“Today we were able to come back and beat a really good team,” sophomore midfielder/forward Joe Leslie said. “So we were able to respond to the loss [against Vermont] and hopefully we can keep doing well the rest of the season by doing well in the Atlantic 10 and making it to the NCAA Tournament.”

Leslie, one of the most valuable players for UMass in today’s game, tallied a goal and an assist for the win.

“We just need to keep a good mentality and keep working hard day-to-day every day, coming in and doing our recovery and just working hard and enjoying it,” Leslie said.

The Minutemen took the aggressiveness to another level in the second half, which led to them doubling their first half shot total from four in the first half to eight in the second half.

“The second half we were very good,” Head Coach Fran O’Leary said. “It was night and day. So, we got them in the second half, our energy levels were up, we stepped on them aggressively, and we ended up getting a lot of the ball and playmakers did their thing.”

A huge emphasis for O’Leary was the importance of keeping the energy up throughout the season.

“We have to carry over this second half performance of intensity and energy,” O’Leary said. “Tactics are important, but they account for nothing if you don’t have the energy and mentality to compete.”

On the flip side, as UMass heads into conference play, it will take a lot more than energy to come out on top. The Minutemen were able to climb back and use aggression on offense to pull out the win against Dartmouth on Wednesday, but with competitive A-10 play, UMass can’t depend on coming back from behind.

“If we are going to compete against Saint Louis and in this conference, we have to be able to put together two halves,” O’Leary said.

UMass takes its first jab at A-10 conference play against Saint Louis on Saturday. Game is set for 1 p.m.

Eli Weisberger can be reached at [email protected].