UMass men’s soccer defeats Dartmouth 2-1 in non-conference play

Minutemen score two goals in the second half

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Reese Maple / UMass Athletics

By Will Kharfen, Collegian Staff

The University of Massachusetts men’s soccer team defeated Dartmouth 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon to earn its fourth win of the season, bouncing back after its first loss on Saturday. The Minutemen (4-1-1) mounted back from a 1-0 deficit in the first half and scored two goals in the second half to pull out the win over the Big Green.

“This is a terrific win against a very good team,” Head Coach Fran O’Leary said. “This to us is our biggest win of the season against a very tough opponent, so we are absolutely delighted.”

Dartmouth (0-3) struck first when midfielder Ben Jenkins scored in the 25th minute to give them a 1-0 lead. Jenkins received the ball on the left side of the box, turned around and shot the ball into the back of the net.

“In the first half they had the best of us and we were disappointed in the goal,” O’Leary said. “At halftime, the guys were determined to make up for it in the second half.”

In the 65th minute, the Minutemen’s up-tempo and confrontational play finally paid off as midfielder Joe Leslie scored off an assist from forward Yosuke Hanya. The goal was highlighted by Hanya, who fought off Dartmouth’s defender to keep the play alive. Hanya passed the ball into the center of the box to the awaiting Leslie who struck past the goalkeeper towards the right side of the net.

“I just keep working hard day by day,” Leslie said. “Hopefully when I get my chance, I’ll keep taking it. Every day we are trying to work and improve from the last game.”

In the 86th minute, UMass completed the comeback thanks to a goal scored by midfielder Ryan Levay. The setup to the goal was created by Leslie, who played a through ball passed by Hanya by chipping it over multiple Dartmouth defenders in Levay’s direction. Levay headed the shot into the near post to give the Minutemen a 2-1 lead.

“Two terrific goals today,” O’Leary said. “We took our chances and created chances. Guys just wanted the ball, so our energy level came up in the second half. We started beating them, beating our duels and individual battles, and that allowed us to get the ball.”

Moving forward O’Leary understands the challenge ahead of the team, as they are set to face tough competition.

“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.

Leslie further emphasized O’Leary’s view that improvements need to be made heading into conference play.

“Today, we were able to come back and beat a really good team,” Leslie said. “Hopefully we can keep doing well the rest of the season in the A-10 and make it to the NCAA Tournament.”

UMass next takes on Saint Louis at home on Saturday with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

Will Kharfen can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WillKharfen.