Canfield’s overtime goal salvages weekend

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s soccer team (8-4, 2-2 Atlantic 10) bounced back from a disappointing loss on Friday to Dayton with a crucial overtime victory against Xavier (5-8) on Sunday to split the weekend’s A-10 conference games.

Sunday’s contest with the Musketeers was a war of attrition as neither team was able to take charge in the first 90 minutes of play. That all changed just over two minutes into overtime as UMass was able to find the back of the net for the dramatic 1-0 victory.

It was junior forward Britt Canfield who once again provided the game-winner on a crossing pass from senior co-captain Stephanie Barrett. The goal was her team-leading sixth score of the season and third of the game-winning variety.

Canfield downplayed her role in the win and was quick to credit her teammates that put her in a position to win it with her goal.

“It was all in the crossing pass by Stephanie,” she said. “It just happened to hit my inner thigh and it bounced around and went in. It was [redshirt junior goalie] Kristin Walker who saved us again. She was amazing. If we didn’t have her I wouldn’t have had that opportunity, and it’s obvious we would have lost.”

Walker’s fourth shutout of the season couldn’t have come at a better time for the Minutewomen, who could not afford to fall to 1-3 in the conference. It may have been Walker’s most impressive game as she recorded 10 saves against an Xavier team that was on the attack for much of the game, shooting 21 times.

“Walker was big and big,” UMass coach Jim Rudy said. “She was giant today. She was calm and composed and got it done under pressure today.”

“She was amazing,” Barrett added. “On defense we play for Walker – we want to give her shutouts. It’s great to contribute and help her out and get a win. We cover for her but she covers for us all the time.”

Much like Canfield, Walker was adamant about focusing on her teammates rather than herself.

“I guess I was having a good day,” she said. “It helped that everybody was positive and that we had a lot of scoring chances. Our defense helped me out a lot. It’s not like [Xavier] was down at our end the whole time. Nobody deserved that goal more than Britt. She works so hard and it’s awesome for her.”

The rest of the team and Rudy are starting to run out of positive things to say about Canfield, who seems to always be at the right place at the right time.

“I don’t even know what to say about Britt because there’s so much,” senior co-captain Nadia Villarroel said. “She’s a great player and a great person. She always works her butt off and that’s why everyone likes her.”

“You never know what Canfield is going to do,” Rudy added. “She could be having the worst game of her life and she’ll put it in the net.”

Rudy was relieved following the game. He knew it could have just as easily gone the other way.

“We’ve been on the other end of games like this,” he said. “I guess what comes around goes around somewhat. I feel really happy for our kids as we’ve been going through a tough time. But I feel very fortunate as well. We survived here long enough and got the win. The soccer gods were with us today.”

Rudy and his team understood the enormity of the game and how crucial coming out with a win proved to be moving forward.

“This is going to be really important to the rest of our season,” Villarroel said. “This is our first win in three games and we’re traveling on the road next weekend. It’s kind of like a turning point and now we know what it feels like to win again.”

“It would have been dangerous losing that game and falling to 1-3 in the A-10’s,” Rudy said. We’re still going through the angst of playing without Tina Rodriguez. It’s a process. I think because of the transition we’re in now, it was important to get the win today.”

The game against Xavier turned out to be a virtual must-win due to the Maroon and White’s loss to Dayton (4-3-3) on Friday. Despite taking the lead, 1-0, on Villarroel’s third goal of the season, UMass was unable to sustain the advantage for very long and ultimately lost 3-1.

“We’re a little discombobulated,” Rudy said following the loss. “We have to change things up a little bit. I just didn’t feel like we had great performance out of our older players. I thought the younger kids did great. We had some good opportunities and good looks but we fired it right at the keeper. I don’t think the score reflected not what should have been, but what could have been.”