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Smith getting hot at right time for Minutewomen offense

With the offense of the Massachusetts women’s soccer team emerging after a five-game hiatus, midfielder Therese Smith is heating up at the right time for the Minutewomen.

The third-year Holyoke native scored a goal in each of UMass’ two victories last week. In a 2-1 win over Saint Peter’s College (2-8-1) last Sunday, the Minutewomen’s first win of the season, Smith scored the winning goal with 5 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first half. She then struck again in the team’s first Atlantic 10 match up five days later against Saint Josephs.

With the Minutewomen (3-4-2, 2-0 A-10) trailing 1-0 at the start of the second half, Smith took a pass from redshirt junior Sydney Stoll and launched a low strike past the goalkeeper to tie the game. She is tied with Stoll for first on the team with two goals, while her four points trail only Stoll’s five.

“Therese is our most skilled player,” UMass coach Angela Napoli said. “She is in more of a leadership role and she is great with it. She can hold the ball, and when we get stuck on defense we know she can clear it out. She is a big key to our attack.”

Smith is well on her way to improving her stats for the third consecutive season. As a sophomore, she was second on the team with eight points, three goals, and two assists in 2008. If this hot streak continues, she could top those totals before the Minutewomen’s next home game on Oct. 9 against La Salle.

Fox scores first collegiate goal

Freshman midfielder Meredith Fox showed off her skills with the first goal of her budding collegiate career.

The Pennsylvania native ensured a victory for UMass with her second half goal against the Hawks (4-4-2, 1-1) last Friday. Less then five minutes after Smith tied the game 1-1, Fox fought through a crowd in front of the net and chipped in a corner kick from senior Jacquelyn Desjardins.

“She is a hard worker, and all heart, and all abut the team,” Napoli said of Fox. “She just works and works and works, and that is the type of player every team needs. She cares more about the final product than how many minutes she plays.”

Fox has been the Minutewomen’s top offensive freshman thus far, starting in all nine of the team’s games, and is tied with senior Katie Ruggles for third on the team in both goals (one) and points (two). She has also attempted seven shots this season with three of them being on-goal.

Strong second half play

Going into the season, Napoli originally thought that her squad would be a first-half team. However, the Minutewomen’s play in recent weeks has proven the opposite to be true.

This season, the Minutewomen have put up better numbers in the second half, most noticeably on the offensive end. In nine games, they have attempted 52 shots in the second half, with four going for goals.

In the first half, they attempted 11 fewer shots and scored one less goal. The only time the Minutewomen have scored in the first half during its first five games was against St. Peter’s, where they chipped in two goals prior to halftime.

“I felt early that we would be a first-half team,” Napoli said. “I guess we need time to adapt to our opponents. I give credit to our fitness level. The fitness staff has worked extremely hard, and it shows.”

On the defensive end, UMass has allowed 74 shots and given up three goals in the second half this season. Because of this, goalies Lauren Luckey and Emily Cota have seen their save numbers drop after halftime. Excluding overtime periods, the duo has combined for 57 saves on the season, with 31 coming in the first half and 26 coming in the second.

Mike Mastone can be reached at mmastone@student.umass.edu.

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