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Minutewomen drop two in A-10 play as conference tournament nears

Matthew Harrison

(Matthew Harrison / Collegian)

The last thing the Massachusetts women’s soccer team needed this weekend was two losses against Atlantic 10 rivals Xavier and Dayton.

Fresh off a 3-2 victory over Rhode Island last week, the Minutewomen took to the road in an attempt to better their record for a shot at making the A-10 Tournament. Instead of taking strides forward, however, UMass fell farther behind, dropping two important games that might end up determining whether or not it makes the tournament. UMass has just two more games before the start of the tournament, which begins on November 5.

On Friday against the Musketeers (3-13-1, 3-6-1 A-10), the Minutewomen overcame an early 1-0 deficit with an unassisted goal from junior Therese Smith, but fell short in overtime 2-1. The goal was Smith’s team-leading fifth of the season and marked her fourth-straight game of at least one point.

Taking a 1-1 tie into overtime, UMass gave up the game-winner just 38 seconds into the frame to Xavier’s Brittany Green, who also scored in the 55th minute of regulation. Green’s shot came from about 30 yards out, tipping off freshman goalkeeper Emily Cota’s hands and into the net.

Redshirt junior Sydney Stoll and Smith once again led the team in shots with five and four, respectively. UMass had a 6-1 corner kick advantage in the game, failing to capitalize on any.

The Minutewomen then traveled to Dayton on Sunday to face the A-10 powerhouse Flyers for their final road game of the season. UMass could not achieve the upset it desired, dropping the match, 3-0. Following the loss, UMass dropped to 4-10-2 overall and 3-6-0 in the A-10. The Flyers remained as one of two undefeated teams in the country as they improved to 12-0-5 overall and 8-0-1 in the A-10.

Getting her first start in a few weeks was senior goalkeeper Lauren Luckey, who could not do much to stifle the high-powered Dayton offense. Luckey saved nine of the Flyer’s 12 shots on goal, while Dayton goalie Katherine Boone turned aside the two shots the Minutewomen put on goal. In total, UMass was outshot 22-7, and took the disadvantage in corner kicks, 9-1.

Last weekend represented more of the same for UMass, which is now 0-3-2 in overtime periods and continues to get outdone on the offensive side of the ball. The Minutewomen have relied on Smith and Stoll all season long to provide the scoring, which has not let to recent success. Stoll leads UMass in shots against Dayton with three, but was not able to convert.

UMass would have been happy splitting the weekend with one win against Xavier, which still sits below the Minutewomen in the standings.

Now for UMass, it’s crunch time. The Minutewomen will host George Washington (5-7-4 overall, 2-4-2 A-10) and Richmond (8-7-2 overall, 4-3-1 A-10) at home during Halloween weekend, and two losses would almost certainly prevent them from making the tournament. With just two matches remaining before the start of the A-10 Tournament, wins are as important as ever.

 Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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