UMass picks up crucial conference victory on the road against Davidson

Three different goal scorers for the Minutemen

By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

In a pivotal, must win game to keep its hopes of qualifying for the Atlantic 10 Tournament alive, the Massachusetts men’s soccer showed its resiliency in a hard fought 3-2 victory on the road against Davidson Saturday.

UMass (8-3-2, 2-2-1 A-10) came into the contest with the Wildcats (7-6-1, 2-3-1 A-10) sitting in tenth place and desperately needing a victory to have any chance of qualifying for the A-10 Tournament. A three-goal performance that saw three separate scorers for the Minutemen proved that they were up for the challenge taking on a Davidson team celebrating their senior day.

“Delighted to get the three points we badly needed,” UMass coach Fran O’Leary said. “It’s a win on the road and moves us up the [A-10] table. I think that [win] will give our team a winning season which is a good accomplishment we’ve wanted to achieve. More importantly these three points will put us right back into the playoff hunt.”

The Minutemen will be pleased with the three points on the road against a very good opponent in Davidson, but more importantly, Saturday’s game showcased just how well this team gels together. Alec Hughes and Evan Fournier both were on the score sheet Saturday, yet no goal was more important than the game winning goal by Filippo Begliardi Ghidini.

The striker has the flare for the dramatic and has shown time and time again his ability to perform at his highest level in the waning minutes of the game. In the 86th minute of Saturday’s contest Begliardi Ghidini struck the ball into the back of the net off a lovely chipped passed from Yosuke Hanya to put UMass ahead 3-2. It was a culmination of the two’s chemistry on the pitch and their awareness of each other that has been on display all year.

Begliardi Ghidini’s skillset on the pitch is why UMass has been so successful. Not only can he shoot with both his left and right foot, but he has the dribbling and finesse to get by any defenders in his way.

“A hugely important [goal for us],” O’Leary said. “[Begliardi Ghidini] has just carried on all season. That is his eighth goal and that is going to put him up there amongst the top scorers in the country. All credit to him. He has been terrific for us all season.”

A player who has been relatively quiet as of the last few games and who came up big for the Minutemen when they need him the most was Hughes. The sophomore forward put in 67 minutes of work against the Wildcats and finished with a goal and along with three shots.

In the midway point of the second half Hughes had what looked to be a decent chance of putting UMass ahead 2-1 and all that stood between him was a one-on-one opportunity with Davidson’s goalkeeper Giacomo Piccardo. Hughes instead tripped on his way through the box, lost control of the ball and soon enough the ball was already into UMass’ own half.

But just a few moments later in the 82nd minute Hughes had himself a chance for redemption, finishing off a cross that was brought in by Nathaniel Cardoza which was headed towards Hughes’ direction by Begliardi Ghidini. Hughes capitalized with a flick of his right foot and finished it into the back of the net.

“I will just say the goal will do [Hughes] a world of good,” O’Leary said. “He is a very important player for us and I thought he made a major contribution today.”

It was a crucial win for the Minutemen who now see themselves currently tied in seventh place on seven points with Davidson and Duqeusne.

UMass takes on Rhode Island on Wednesday in a conference battle. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

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