Underclassmen shine in UMass’ 2-1 win over Boston University

Shizu Yohena scores game-winner and his first career goal

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Photo by Daily Collegian

By Marco Lopez, Collegian Staff

Led by terrific play from its underclassmen, the Massachusetts men’s soccer team came from behind to beat Boston University 2-1 on Saturday.

The Terriers (2-1-2) took the lead in the first half, but the Minutemen (4-0-1) scored two goals throughout the duration to take the game. Sophomore midfielder Shizu Yohena scored what became the game-winner in the 73rd minute after intercepting a pass that was headed to BU’s goalkeeper after Nick Zielonka put pressure on the defenders. The goal was Yohena’s first collegiate goal.

“Makes you think about where the ball is going to be when we press, so once [Zielonka] pressed to the right back, so I need to think about next, all I think about is what’s going to be,” Yohena said. “So, I got the ball, did what I need to do, and just put it in the net.”

Yohena is one of many young players on UMass who have seen increased playing time and greater opportunities this season. Five games into the season, Yohena has already been able to break all his career highs in shots, shots on goal, goals, and assists than he had the previous year.

“That was awesome, in front of the big fans, that was so good,” Yohena said about scoring his first career goal.

Coming off the bench played as an advantage for Yohena because it allowed him to scout the field and see the weaknesses present throughout BU’s defense.

“I was not starting today, so I could see everything on the field like from the bench, so I could see their weakness,” Yohena said. “They had a big gap between the midfielder and center back, so I felt like I could get the ball in those gaps.”

The young Minutemen backfield was also critical in the win, with the defense allowing one goal on the day. Sophomore defenders Brad Moccio and Matt Fordham anchored the backfield, playing 81 and 90 minutes respectively.

Last season, Moccio did not see any game action, while Fordham appeared in a pair of games. Now, they are being entrusted with key starting roles on the defense alongside graduate defender Nathaniel Cardoza.

“We like to keep our line very tight, make sure nothing is slipping in behind us, one ball never beats us over the top,” Fordham said. “So, we make sure everything stays in front of us as a back four, and we always have help from our front six and repressing the ball.”

Going forward, the Minutemen will continue to rely on their underclassmen and entrust them with critical roles on the team. Offensively, having a player like Yohena come off the bench and produce three shots and one goal was a much-needed boost for the team. Defensively, Matt Fordham was spectacular, handling the ball well and making nearly no mistakes.

“The young guys are not afraid,” head coach Fran O’Leary said. “The older guys have been terrific in leading the younger guys, but the younger guys are not afraid. We needed to get guys in who could give us a boost, and we brought a group of guys in off the bench, six or seven guys, who all performed and gave the starters a much-needed rest and the team a much-needed boost.”

So far, the UMass underclassmen are delivering and helping to produce big wins, with the team currently undefeated and riding a four-game win streak.

The Minutemen will return to the field on Tuesday when they travel to take on Dartmouth at 5 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected]