Minutewomen remain winless, fall to Albany in double OT

By Steve Levine

For the Massachusetts women’s soccer team, two weeks have passed since the beginning of the season and they still cannot see a win in the standings.

On Wednesday, the Minutewomen looked to change that against Albany at Rudd Field. The decision would not be designated easily, however, as the match required two overtime periods to label the Great Danes victorious.

“It was definitely a battle,” UMass coach Napoli said. “Albany is a solid team which is very good one-on-one and whenever we got matched up with them in a tight space they usually bumped us off the ball. We should have looked to pass a little bit quicker.”

Scoreless with under seven minutes left to play in double overtime, Albany’s Chelsea DeVerna eluded several defenders and placed a shot inside the right post to give the Great Danes a victory.

 “One of their players pulled two of our defenders out of place, allowing space for their attacker,” Napoli said disappointedly. “We got a touch on the ball but it just wasn’t enough as she stayed with it and placed it near side.”

As the score would indicate, the match was highlighted by a number of near misses. After a very evenly-matched first period, the Minutewomen took a 6-5 shot advantage into the second half, where they nearly broke the scoreless tie on several occasions. The best chance came in the 56th minute, when Junior Therese Smith redirected a cross right on goal, only to have it deflected away by a Great Danes’ defender.

With 25 minutes remaining in regulation, the field opened up and opportunities came more frequently for both teams. Lindsey Diorio was in the middle of some of those chances, once in the 69th minute with a shot just wide, and again in the 76th minute when her header was denied by Albany’s goalkeeper.

With two minutes remaining in regulation, Albany manufactured a breakaway, only to be stopped by freshman goalkeeper Emily Cota, who aggressively charged out, got low and deflected the shot high to send the match into overtime.

The first overtime period continued the competitive trend, as both teams registered two shots apiece, sending the match into double overtime.

The Minutewomen could not match Albany’s efforts there, however, as momentum clearly shifted to the Great Danes. Lacking offensive opportunities for the Minutewomen allowed Albany to press hard on offense. After two missed shots, the Great Danes netted their third, ending the match and the Minutewomen’s hopes of putting one in the win column.

If UMass wants to put together a winning season, some things are going to have to change.

“We need to improve on our speed of play,” Napoli said. “Also, we can’t get stuck on the sides. We’ve been on the players all season about changing the point of attack and basically going from the left side to the right side and vice versa.”

There is still room to turn it around, as the season is still very young. Although taking a loss, Napoli did see some bright spots in the gritty match.

“I thought Lindsey Diorio played well,” Napoli said. “Both Luckey and Cota played well in net, too. A couple of kids had some good days and now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. The effort is there, we’re definitely fighting and we got a lot more chances today than in previous matches.”

The Minutewomen will return to play this Sunday, September 13, when they travel to New Hampshire for a road match against the Wildcats.

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]