UMass finished the season 8-10 and 5-4 in A-10 play en route to a No. 5 seed in its second-consecutive tournament berth.
The Minutewomen face the No.4 Bonnies, who finished 11-8 and 5-4 in the A-10.
This will be the first time the two teams have meet since Sept. 26, 2008 at Rudd Field, a game in which UMass won 2-1.
UMass clinched their berth with a 1-0 victory over Fordham last Friday. Gaining their fifth win in A-10 play, the Minutewomen tied their record for most conference victories since 2001. This is also the first time since 1999-2000 that UMass has qualified in back-to-back years.
“Everyone is pretty excited right now and we had a good week of practice, but what the [players] need to realize is that this is a special opportunity to make their conference tournament and they need to enjoy every single minute of it,” UMass coach Ed Matz said.
The Bonnies are coming off a 2-1 loss to Richmond last Sunday. The loss snapped a four- game winning streak in which they defeated Fordham, Xavier, Dayton and George Washington. Anna Cunningham led the Bonnies in scoring with nine goals and 21 points, followed by Tori Burchett with six goals and Courtney Bosse with four, respectively. Between the pipes, Nicole Markert did the bulk of the work, sporting a 0.759 save percentage on 13 goals allowed.
“St. Bonaventure has a very good team,” Matz said. “They do a good job of possessing the ball and also have a very good striker and a strong goalkeeper, as well as being extremely well-coached.”
Against the Rams, junior Deanna Colorassi iced the game-winning goal in the 18th minute on the Minutewomen’s first shot on goal. Colorassi collected a through ball from sophomore Jess Howe and sent a shot from the top of the 18-yard box past the fingertips of Rams’ goaltender Sarah Zieman. Colorassi leads the team coming into the tournament with nine goals and 20 points.
Sophomore goaltender Emily Cota was strong in net with five saves in her fifth shutout of the season. Cota was tested more in the second half with four stops compared to just one in the first half.
La Salle proved to be tougher for UMass in the regular season closer. The Minutewomen dropped the game 3-0 in a back-and-forth game. UMass went down late in the first half off a Renee Washington goal followed by the Explorers tacking on two more in the second half off the foot of Amanda Komarnicki and Morgan Golden.
The Minutewomen’s game will follow the No. 3 Duquesne versus No. 6 La Salle matchup, which will begin at 5 p.m. After both games, the highest-ranked seed remaining will face-off with No. 2 Dayton while the lowest seed will be matched up with No. 1 Charlotte.
“One of my goals coming into the program was to make the tournament and our team worked hard all season to realize that goal and I am very proud of them,” Matz said.
UMass has won five conference titles in its history, as Matz, in his first year with the program will look to lead the Minutewomen to their sixth. The game will be played at a neutral site in Kingston R.I. and is set to start Thursday night, at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Counos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.