Women’s soccer look to defeat Xavier, keep playoff hopes alive
The Massachusetts women’s soccer team hits the road this weekend to Xavier play and undefeated Dayton aiming for one last late season surge.
The Minutewomen currently sit at ninth in the Atlantic 10 and improved their conference record to 3-4-0 after defeating Rhode Island, 3-2, last weekend. They trail Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Richmond in the hunt for the coveted sixth seed in the conference tournament.
“If we finish strong we have a good shot [at making the A-10 tournament],” Napoli said. “Of our last four games, we have a shot at winning three of them…but with the A-10, you never know what to expect.”
UMass continued its strong second half play en route to defeating Rhode Island. The Minutewomen outscored the Rams 2-1 after halftime, with the definitive blow being dealt by junior Therese Smith in the 86th minute. However, senior Cristina Adams boosted them to victory with her first two goals of the season. She is now one goal shy of tying her career-high mark of three that she set as a sophomore.
In their match ups against Rhode Island and Fordham, the Minutewomen have scored more goals (five) than during any other two-game stretch this season. Adams’ contributions are also a strong sign for UMass, as the team’s offense had been made up mostly of Smith and redshirt junior Sydney Stoll.
“It takes stress off of Smith and Stoll,” UMass coach Angela Napoli said. “It makes other teams focus on other players. Hopefully now we can stretch the defense.”
Prior to Adams’ score at the 26 minute, five second mark at Rhode Island, Smith and Stoll accounted for seven of the team’s nine goals. She earned A-10 Co-Player of the Week for her effort.
Goalkeeper Emily Cota also had a solid showing against the Rams. The freshman bounced back from four consecutive shaky outings with two goals and eight saves. She should have confidence heading into tonight’s match up against a weak Musketeer offense.
Xavier (2-13-1, 1-6-1) is riding a five game losing streak and is the only team in the A-10 to score fewer goals than UMass this season. The Musketeers have notched six goals on the season, half the total of the Minutewomen. Senior Brittany Green and redshirt freshman Leslie Boersma are tied for the team lead at two goals apiece, with Green also tallying an assist to lead the team in points (five).
Junior Carly Wenzel and freshman Susie Pauley combine for Xavier’s other two goals. Wenzel also leads the team with two assists, with junior Justine Hartigan contributing the last of the team’s four assists.
On Sunday, UMass will face arguably its toughest test of the season when it travels to Ohio to take on undefeated Dayton. The Flyers (10-0-5, 6-0-1) are one of two undefeated teams left in Division I, with the other being top-ranked Stanford.
The Flyers’ balanced offensive attack, which is second to Charlotte in the A-10 with 30 goals, is led by senior trio of Lauren MacCormick, Mandi Bäck and freshman Colleen Williams.
MacCormick leads the team in goals (six) and points (17). She is also tied for second on the Flyers with five assists. Bäck has five assists in addition to five goals.
Williams leads the team with six assists, and has also chipped in four goals.
Juniors Jerica DeWolfe and Kelly Blumenschein have also made strong contributions for Dayton. DeWolfe has four goals on the season, while Blumenschein has three goals and two assists.
Today’s match up against Xavier is set for a 7 p.m. start time in Cincinnati. The Minutewomen then have Saturday off before traveling to Dayton to take on the Flyers at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Baujan Field.
Mike Mastone can be reached at email@example.com.