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Role players key to Minutewomen’s success

With the one-two punch of Therese Smith and Sydney Stoll carrying the offense all season, several players have stepped up to help propel the Massachusetts women’s soccer team into the playoffs.

Over the regular season’s final five games, in which the Minutewomen tallied a 3-2-0 record, senior Cristina Adams with underclassmen Lauren Yelinek, Meredith Fox and Lindsey DiOrio have come through in the clutch. The quartet combined for 10 of the team’s last 18 points, with Yelinek making the biggest splash.

Yelinek, a transfer from Texas Tech, tallied four points since going scoreless in her first 13 games. Her biggest contribution came over the weekend when she scored the only goal in the Minutewomen’s 1-0 victory over Richmond. With the game knotted at zero in the 36th minute, the sophomore chipped a deflected serve-in.

The midfielder also contributed assists in wins over George Washington and Rhode Island. Against the Rams, she assisted Adams to give the Minutewomen a 2-1 advantage, while she assisted Stoll on the game-winner against the Colonials.

In the match-up against Rhode Island, Adams also stepped up in a big way and played the best game of her career. The Braintree, Mass. native scored twice and gave UMass (6-10-2, 5-6-0 Atlantic 10) the lead. She scored the first goal of the game on a pass from junior Ashley Hamel during the 26th minute and struck again nearly 54 minutes later en route to a 3-2 victory.

The freshman/sophomore duo of Fox and DiOrio has also quietly contributed to the team’s recent success. They both assisted Yelinek on her game-winning goal against Richmond on Sunday. DiOrio served the ball in following a foul on Richmond, with Fox bringing the ball down and allowing Yelinek to score.

Fox tallied the first points of her collegiate career on a game-winning goal against Saint Joseph’s on Sept. 25 to open conference play. DiOrio’s assist gave her the first point of her UMass career.

If the Minutewomen are to be successful against Fordham tomorrow night and continue their trip through the conference tournament, quiet players will have to continue to step up. The team has to increase its aggressiveness to create more shots.

Over the course of the 18-game regular season, the Minutewomen were outshot, 336-185. Stoll led the team with 49 attempts (24 on goal), Smith was second with 36 (18 on goal) and Hamel was third with 19 (four on goal). UMass also allowed twice as many goals (30) as they scored themselves.

The team’s intensity picked up on the defensive end as of late, most notably in the box. The Minutewomen have been more aggressive and played tighter coverage and have gone after more loose balls. If the offense can mimic this same increase in intensity, UMass will be a handful for any opponent.

The Minutewomen will be in action tomorrow night against Fordham to try and keep their A-10 title hopes alive. The game is set for 5:30 p.m. at Transamerica Field in Charlotte.

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

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