Pair of second-half goals lift UMass To 2-0 victory at Northeastern


Eric Lepeak

The Huskies were unable to score in their season opener Wednesday afternoon, falling 2-0 to UMass Amherst.

Dov Kaufman, news staff

The Northeastern men’s soccer team were defeated by UMass Amherst in the season opener Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2-0. Goals from junior midfielder Ben Sheppard and graduate forward Fillipo Begliardi Ghidini saw away the Huskies in the second half. The match was originally scheduled to be played on Valentine’s Day, but COVID-19 protocols forced UMass to shut down it’s facilities earlier in the month.

Despite strong first-half defensive performances, both teams lacked a final ball; the match had the feel of a season opener with both teams coming out rusty. The Minutemen were happy to sit behind the ball and soak up pressure, relying on the shiftiness and creativity of senior forward Yosuke Hanya to launch counter attacks. 

“Anytime you play a team like UMass, you got to find a way to get the first goal, and if you don’t and they get it, they just sit numbers behind the ball, and you have to break them down,” head coach Chris Gbandi said. “I thought UMass did a good job tonight at sitting behind the ball and transitioning.”

Hanya ran the middle of the park for the Minutemen and proved to be more than a handful for the Husky defenders.  

The Huskies’ first half struggles can be attributed to their inability to get their star man, sophomore forward Timothy Ennin, involved in the game. Throughout the preseason, Ennin terrorized defenses. Against UMass Amherst, however, he registered only a few touches in the first half, and none in the opposing box.

Northeastern’s worst nightmare came true only a minute and a half into the second half, as they conceded their first goal of the season to UMass junior midfielder Ben Sheppard. An unconvincing clearance from junior midfielder Omar Da Naia saw the ball fall to Sheppard’s feet on the edge of the box, where a tidy finish opened the scoring. Alongside Hanya, Sheppard played a momentous role in UMass’s counter attacking style of play.

“It was a little bit of a shock, right, because in the first half, they didn’t get too much. Second half, we came out a little bit lax,” Gbandi said. “Once you give up that first goal to a team that’s trying to figure themselves out, which I think UMass were at times, they got that goal and it gave them confidence.” 

The Huskies had chances in the second half, but were unable to get the goal needed to stay alive in the contest. After conceding, the game turned sloppy as NU searched for a way back into the game. Their chances of rescuing a point, however, were struck down after freshman goalkeeper Colby Hegarty took down Minuteman forward Fillipo Begliardi Ghidini in the penalty box. Ghidini slotted the penalty home, crushing any chance of a Husky comeback.

“Defensively we have to be solid. I think attacking wise, to have the group that we have, and don’t even find a way to score a goal. So, I think overall, from defending to attacking, we just have to do a better job all over the field,” Gbandi said.

Northeastern (0-1) look to bounce back in two weeks’ time away against the University of New Hampshire.