UMass ties Hartford on Ruggles birthday goal

By Mike Mastone

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The Massachusetts women’s soccer team finally put its scoreless drought to rest as senior Katie Ruggles punched in a game-tying free kick on her birthday en route to the team’s second consecutive double-overtime tie.

Following a foul on Hartford, Ruggles attempted a free kick from the left side. The shot deflected off Hartford goalkeeper Lauren Brodeur’s hands into the net at the 51 minute, 28 second mark, tying the game and ending a season-starting five game scoreless streak.

“It feels great to say it’s done,” UMass coach Angela Napoli said referring to the team’s fist goal. “We all feel relieved.”

Hartford held UMass (0-4-2) to only three shots in a sloppy first half, while only attempting seven of its own. Redshirt junior Meghan Gould attempted the first shot of the game, missing a header wide at the 12:24 mark. At the same time UMass committed its first of five fouls within a 10 minute period. Over that same period the Hawks got off three shots, two of which were by redshirt freshman Alex Uscilla.

Hartford (3-3-1) was able to strike first, with senior Laura Guigli scoring on an assist from Breeanna Robinson a little after the midway point of the first half following a corner kick. The UMass defense immediately responded, allowing only three more shot attempts the rest of the half. All three shots were saved by Lauren Lucky. Sydney Stoll and Therese Smith countered with shots of their own, but were unable to get them by Brodeur.

“Our defenders, our entire team, worked hard to get back into it in the second half,” said Napoli. “The 22 shots (in the first half from Hartford) made it seem like a tougher game than it really was. Only three of them were really threatening.”

The story of the second half was the Minutewomen’s first goal of the season and the continued strong play of freshman goalie Emily Cota, who shut down the Hawks in the second half and the two overtime periods.

After Ruggle’s goal the Minutewomen offense came to a screeching halt, with redshirt junior Meredith Fox attempting the teams only other shot (which was saved by Brodeur) in the second half. In a 19:28 second period leading up to the half’s final minutes, the Hawks had six unsuccessful scoring chances. Cota made one save while the other five went wide.

In the final 2:21 of regulation the Hawks were unsuccessful in four tries to keep the game from going into overtime. Cota saved shots from Robinson and sophomore Amber Smyth, while junior Mary Beth Hamilton was wide on her two attempts.

UMass’ offensive struggles continued in the overtime periods. Fox attempted the team’s only shot of the first overtime period. The Hawks attempted three shots, with Cota making her forth save and the other two being high and wide. In the second overtime the Minutewomen attacked early with a header by Gould 10 seconds into the 111th minute. Hartford had one last attempt on a header by Robinson with 54 seconds remaining, but the shot was wide.

“I’m proud of how [the team] came out in the second half,” said Napoli. “It was ugly in the first half and we could have packed it in. We battled hard and worked hard in the second half and overtimes and seemed to have a lot more energy than Hartford. Unfortunately, it did not go our way.”

UMass will resume its quest for victory number one on Sunday afternoon as the Minutewomen play host to St. Peter’s. The Peahens (2-4-0) are coming off a home loss to Monmouth (3-2-0) and will be in action tonight against Bryant (1-4-0). Minus a 5-2 loss to St. Joseph’s (2-3-1), their defense has been superb thus far. In their other five games the team has allowed an average of one goal per game.

Sophomore Courtney Sundstrom has been the Peahen’s most effective player and leads the team in goals (two), points (four), shots (10) and shots on goal (seven). Senior Katelyn Matousek, sophomore Dana Grimes, and the freshmen duo of Jamie Lisanti and Chloe Zmolek have also chipped in goals for St. Peter’s. Sophomore Brianna DeStefano leads the team with two assists.

The match is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. and will be UMass’ third home game of the season.

Mike Mastone can be reached at [email protected]