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Luckey returns to Minutewomen lineup

After spending the last seven games on the sidelines, Massachusetts senior goalkeeper Lauren Luckey posted a season-high nine saves in a 3-0 loss to undefeated Dayton on Sunday.

Luckey, who had not seen action since being taken out at halftime versus Saint Joseph’s (7-8-3, 4-5-1 Atlantic 10) on Sept. 25, started and played all 90 minutes for the Minutewomen (4-10-2, 3-6-0 A-10).  She allowed three goals on 22 attempts.

The first goal came a minute and a half into the game, when Dayton senior Lauren MacCormick tapped in a pass from freshman Colleen Williams. Senior Mandi Bäck then put the next two goals past Luckey. 

At the 16:16 mark, Bäck escaped a trap in the corner and fired a strike inside the far post.  Exactly 30 minutes later, she chipped a slot pass from junior Kelly Blumenschein. 

“The three goals were ones that neither [Luckey nor Emily Cota] could have stopped,” UMass coach Angela Napoli said. “She did everything she possibly could have done. Her performance had no effect on the score.”

The nine saves tied the third best single game mark of Luckey’s career.  She accumulated nine saves twice as a junior against Albany and La Salle, while doing it once as a sophomore against Charlotte.

Prior to losing the starting job to Cota, Luckey started in 30 consecutive games for the Minutewomen dating back to 2007.  She started in the first eight games this season, allowing six goals in 405 minutes of action.  After allowing two scores in back-to-back games to start her senior campaign, Lucky posted three straight scoreless outings.  She then closed out September by allowing two goals in her last three games.

For the better part of the past month, Napoli has chosen the goalkeeper on a week-to-week basis.  After pulling Luckey, Cota played every minute in net for the Minutewomen up until the loss to Dayton.

“It has always been in discussion,” Napoli said in regards to the decision to start Luckey over Cota. “Emily has been great all season and has made some huge saves this year. In terms of training, they are both very close. The benefit of Emily is that she takes her own goal kicks, so that takes pressure off of our backs.”

Cota had been solid all season long, allowing three goals in her first seven appearances.  The freshman stepped up when Napoli gave her the nod to start, posting a complete game shutout against Duquesne (5-11-0, 2-7-0 A-10) in her first collegiate start.  For her effort, she earned A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week honors.

After that, Cota hit the first rough patch of her young career.  She allowed an average of three goals over her next six starts, including consecutive 4-0 losses to A-10 opponents Saint Louis (7-8-3, 4-4-2) and Charlotte (15-2-1, 9-0-1).

Luckey, Cota and the Minutewomen return home this weekend to finish off their regular season schedule. Thursday afternoon, UMass played host to George Washington (6-7-4, 3-4-2 A-10) with a start time of 2:30 p.m.. The team then has today off before hosting sixth-place Richmond (8-8-2, 4-4-1 A-10) on Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m.

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

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