Men’s Soccer Recap

Phoyo by John Kane

Phoyo by John Kane

Ryan Thomas

When the men’s soccer game against Eastern Nazarene College got under way, there was an important cog missing from the UMass Boston wheel: Their starting goalkeeper and captain Paul Maniscalco was sitting on the bench, instead of defending his goal.

With back-up goalkeeper Pat O’Connell defending the net for the first time in his collegiate career, the Beacons won their third game of the season, 3-1

Maniscalco, who suffered an oblique injury in last Saturday’s game against Newbury College sat out Thursday’s meeting with the Eastern Nazarene Crusaders. Head coach Myles Berry said that the injury wasn’t too severe and he added that “if it [was] a conference game, He [Paul] could have gone.”

In his first game as a collegiate goalkeeper, O’Connell wasn’t tested all that much, but when pressured, he was up to the test. “I think he was confident and I think the kids started to relax a little bit more with him [in the second half]” Berry said following the game.

The only goal scored by the Crusaders came in the second half and Berry said that it was a goal that even Paul couldn’t have defended. “It was one of those bouncy rollers that just kind of found its way into the back of the net. [It was] one of those fluky goals.”

Although the Beacons finished the game with a 3-1 advantage, the first half was a struggle for the home team. The Beacons out shot Eastern Nazarene 15-0 and had multiple quality scoring chances, including a well-timed cross that was one-timed over the cross bar. It was a disappointing half for the Beacons, but Coach Berry tried to stay positive. “I was happy with the offense other than the finishing” he said.

After a first half of missed opportunities, the Beacons walked onto the pitch in the second half and took control. Three minutes in, Romeo Zeqo scored unassisted on a breakaway, striking the ball into the lower left-hand corner of the opponent’s net to give the Beacons a lead they would not relinquish.

Credit Myles Berry for the quick turnaround in the second half. “I told them they had to play quicker, play smarter and talk more,” Berry said about the conversation he had with his team at half time.

And play quicker they did. Only two minutes later, Zeqo scored his second goal of the game and his third of the season on a long cross by Jose David Grajales. Berry was happy with the rejuvenated play in the second half and he expressed it. “If we start moving the ball the way we did in the second half then we’re awful hard to defend.”

When asked if the two goals scored by Zeqo would boost the forward’s ego, Berry laughingly replied, “I don’t think it can boosted anymore than it already is.” Good athletes need big egos and obviously Zeqo is at that level. “He’s a great kid and a great player,” Berry said. “He’s just one of those kids who can play anywhere on the field for us.” Zeqo has split time between the midfield and forward positions this season, finding success at each.

Eastern Nazarene scored later on in the half to cut the UMass lead to 2-1, but in the 82nd minute, Maynor Sanchez scored on a penalty kick to regain the two-goal advantage.

Rhode Island College, the Beacon’s next opponent won’t be as forgiving as Eastern Nazarene was on this day. “They have a lot of skillful kids, they’re well coached [and] they move the ball around” Berry explained. “They’ll fight you but they depend on finesse” he added.

Berry also said that a lot of the mistakes and missed opportunities his team has had lately will be magnified this Saturday in Providence. “We’re giving away those chances in the back and Rhode Island’s gunna bury them. You can’t get caught against Rhode Island the way we’re getting caught right now.”

Berry said that the game will be a war, but he’s looking forward to it. “I like playing [against] Rhode Island. They’re a skillful team and they play well.”