UMass men’s soccer hoping to continue its unbeaten run when it takes on CCSU in a nonconference matchup

Hughes and Hanya proving to be a formidable duo up front for UMass

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By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

After two wins and one draw the Massachusetts men’s soccer team is still undefeated, and they continue their season with a home matchup against Central Connecticut State (0-3) on Wednesday.

Back-to-back wins on the road see the Minutemen (2-0-1) cruising right along through their early season after an opening draw to Northeastern University. The backbone for UMass has been the dynamic play of graduate student Yosuke Hanya and sophomore Alec Hughes. The two have been phenomenal so far and are bringing their success from last spring’s shortened season into the fall.

Hughes has been a focal point for the men’s soccer squad this year, especially after his first-year breakthrough last spring. The forward contributed seven goals and two assists last year and played a pivotal role lead up to the team reaching the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel like we kind of started off a little slow chemistry wise,” Hughes said. “But I feel like we are getting better and better as we keep going on.”

The Hughes-Hanya duo has been fun to watch on the pitch. Their skillsets work off of each other combining for high pressing, attacking up the pitch and a lot of scoring with the ball. The two have the ability to go unnoticed at times with their impact on the pitch. They don’t always show up on the stat sheet but have the ability to make the correct the pass, be positioned in the right place and dictate the flow of the game.

Despite not being the centers of attention, the duo is capable of racking up goals and assists with ease and their presence is certainly felt in the game. “I am an offensive player and I have to score a lot,” Hanya said “Compared to last season I couldn’t score but I still had seven assists. That is the space that I can improve in. Obviously in the next game I am trying to score.”

The praise for Hanya is echoed from UMass coaches to the players on the bench. His leadership ability is second to none and his performances on the pitch speak volumes. Oftentimes the moves he makes look effortless as he goes flowing through the midfield, bringing the ball up into the attacking third.

“It’s really fun to watch [Hanya] play,” Hughes said. “I don’t really have to do too much on the ball. He does a lot of the work on the ball and I just sort of make a run and get the ball in front of the net.”

Last season Hanya accounted for seven assists while also registering 27 shots. He started in all 12 games that the Minutemen took part in and was an integral part of their success. He dished out three assists in a match against Rhode Island in March along with an assist against Virginia Tech in the last game before the NCAA Tournament.

“I am pretty happy to be back on Rudd field,” Hanya says. “Last season we couldn’t play on this field because of COVID-19 so that is nice to motivate us to play games. We had a good last two away games. They were good lessons for us and at this time of the season they are going to help us play better later on.”

UMass takes on CCSU Wednesday at Rudd field with kickoff set for 4 p.m.

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