Ex-Wahconah standout Kevin Boino shined in first year at UMass
To say things went pretty well for Dalton's Kevin Boino in his first year of college soccer is pretty close to a big understatement.
A post-season tournament berth, an Atlantic-10 Conference honor, tied for first on the team in goals scored and game-winning goals. Not bad for a freshman.
"I had a lot of fun, but it was definitely a learning curve," said the Wahconah graduate and reigning All-Eagle boys soccer most valuable player. "I'm definitely getting the hang of it now."
Boino was third on the Minutemen with six points on three goals. Two of his goals were game winners. He scored twice in a 2-1 October win at St. Bonaventure which earned him the Atlantic 10 rookie-of-the-week award. He came off the bench in that game to score a goal in each half.
"Vaguely," said Boino, when asked if he remembers his first goal.
"It's a distant memory, it feels like, right now," he said. "It was definitely a huge weight off my shoulder and it was a huge win."
Boino's goal in the 64th minute helped the Minutemen beat Hartford 2-1. It was the team's first win of the year.
One month after that game winner, Boino scored both goals against the Bonnies and the award was coming his way.
"I didn't even know I had gotten the honor until one of my teammates told me," said Boino. "It's an accomplishment, but it's not one of my main goals."
College can be enough of an adjustment for any player, but for Boino and the rest of the Minutemen, the adjustment turned out to be major.
That's because Boino and the rest of the freshman class had been recruited by interim head coach Devin O'Neill. But when the freshmen arrived in Amherst, they had a new coach in Fran O'Leary.
"Coach is great. We're all really close. It's like a family," said Boino. "We're really close with the coaches. It's all worked out."
O'Leary, a native of Dublin, Ireland, has been a head coach since 1989 at Division III Elmira, Kenyon and Bowdoin, along with Division I George Mason and Dartmouth. Since 2012, O'Leary has worked for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.
Now, as to the playoff spot. It might have been on the list of preseason goals, but a tourney bid wasn't really on anyone's radar in Amherst in August.
"That was our goal, and to come in tied for fourth was a huge accomplishment," said Boino, "especially for us, when we were picked 12th overall as a team.
"We hope to improve on that next year."
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