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Kelly, Charochak sweep A-10 weekly awards

Forwards Katie Kelly and Kara Charochak earned Atlantic 10 Conference honors for their play this past weekend. Kelly earned A-10 Player of the Week honors and Charochak earned Rookie of the Week honors.       

In their last four games, the No. 9 Minutewomen (7-2) scored 14 goals (3.5 per game), with Kelly and Charochak combining for six of them.

Kelly is the third Massachusetts player in as many weeks to earn A-10 Player of the Week. Goalkeeper Alesha Widdall earned the distinction on Sept. 14 and defender Makaela Potts received the honor last week.

The junior captain scored three goals this past weekend against Vermont (1-8) and Quinnipiac (1-6), including the game-winner in the 52nd minute against the Catamounts. She leads the Minutewomen with six goals including two game-winners. Kelly is a dynamic scorer who scored 11 goals (three game-winners) with five assists last season, despite missing three games due to injury.

Kelly’s strong play against non-conference opponents in 2008 (seven goals, four assists) bodes well for a UMass team that still has four non-conference games to play, including three on the road. The Minutewomen are 4-0 away from Garber Field this season and a tough Syracuse team awaits them in New York this Saturday.

The No. 6 Orange’s (9-1) only loss came at home to No. 7 Princeton, and UMass looks to capitalize on that this weekend.

Charochak leads all rookies with three goals this season. Charochak’s elevated play of late prompted UMass coach Justine Sowry to insert her into the starting lineup for both of UMass’ last two games. Freshman Nicole Cordero and senior Jill Powers each played reserve roles in one game this weekend to make room for Charochak in the starting lineup.

Alongside Kelly, Powers and Cher King, she brings speed to an already quick forward line. The four of them account for 13 of the Minutewomen’s 23 goals this season.

Potts’ game opening up

The move from midfield to backfield could’ve been the key to opening up the true potential of the scoring threat that is Makaela Potts.

Midway through the season, Potts’ four goals tie a career high for the Sydney, Australia native.

Not only has she doubled her previous career-goal total, but she’s done the same to her career assists total with six this season and nine as a Minutewoman.

She is a mainstay in Sowry’s penalty corner unit, but this season, her game includes an ability to go end-to-end to find scoring opportunities as well. Against Northeastern, Potts followed a breakaway by Kelly and rushed into the circle to score off the rebound.

Potts took over the game against the Huskies with two assists in addition to her goal. She again had a multi-assist game when the Minutewomen attacked Quinnipiac for seven goals. Potts fed three different players for scores.

Her six assists lead the team and ties her with La Salle’s Beth Carey for most in the A-10.

As a team, UMass and West Chester both lead the A-10 with 19 assists but the Minutewomen have a slight edge in assists per-game with just over two.

Steadily rising

With two wins this past weekend, the Minutewomen earned a single-digit ranking for the first time since 2000 when UMass climbed as high as No. 7 in the rankings.

The Minutewomen have yet to face their hardest test of the regular season – Syracuse and No. 5 Connecticut await UMass on consecutive weekends.

In four of its nine games this season, the Huskies (9-0) beat opponents by four goals or more.

Both Orange and UConn feature a player with eight or more goals this season. The Huskies and Syracuse have 39 and 29 goals this season, respectively, compared to UMass’ 23.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@student.umass.edu.

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