Adams can spark a deeper offense

By Steve Levine

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When the Massachusetts’ women’s soccer team welcomed Atlantic 10 rival Rhode Island to Rudd Field last Thursday, the aches of a four-game losing streak were not welcome.

Mired by inconsistent offense, the Minutewomen were desperate to break their losing streak to a Rams team low in the A-10 standings. There are many ways to win a soccer game, but so far, UMass only knows one – little offense, big defense.

Coming into the game, redshirt junior Sydney Stoll and junior Therese Smith accounted for the large majority of goals scored for the Minutewomen, while the goalkeeping duo of senior Lauren Luckey and freshman Emily Cota accounted for the small goals-against average statistic.

If the Minutewomen want to make it to the A-10 tournament, they’re going to have to find new ways to win games. The 3-2 victory over Rhode Island provided some insight as to what UMass could do if different players joined the scoring.

“We could definitely win more games,” UMass coach Angela Napoli said. “It would take more pressure off of Smith and Syd and opponents would be forced to focus on other players.”

The three goals were the most scored by the Minutewomen in 14 games this season, a fact that haunts their chances of making a run in the A-10 Tournament. An increase on the lowly 0.86 goals per game average statistic can come only if different players find ways to create goals.

Senior forward Cristina Adams entered the game with no goals or points, and finished the game with two goals and four points. Smith’s game-winner with less than five minutes left in regulation could not have come if not for Adams’ performance. It was Adams’ first multi-goal effort in her career as it also set her new career high in points. On Monday, Adams was named A-10 Co-Player of the Week.

“We’re not sure if Adams will get the start our next game against Xavier,” Napoli said. “If not, she will definitely be number one or two off the bench.”

If other players can follow in Adams’ footsteps, there’s not telling what the Minutewomen are capable of. A balanced attack coupled with a strong defense is the generic formula for winning teams; now it’s just a matter of execution.
Freshman is fixture in goal

The Minutewomen started the season splitting games down the middle between senior Lauren Luckey and freshman Emily Cota. A game against Duquesne in late September changed that, when Cota got her first collegiate start and delivered a shutout win. Since then, the freshman has started every game, recording over 915 minutes, a 1.87 goals-against average, a 0.776 save percentage and a 3-6-2 record. Some of those stats are skewed a bit due to back-to-back 4-0 losses the Minutewomen suffered at the hands of Saint Louis and Charlotte. In both games, Cota still recorded double-digit saves.

The young freshman has shown that she has the ability to make saves in critical moments. Napoli said earlier this season that her youth and lack of experience could be the reason for her calm demeanor, as her main concern is to just keep her team in the game.

“We have three very solid goalkeepers and that keeps us in games,” Napoli said. “If we don’t have a great offensive game our goalkeeping can sneak us wins. Without them we would not be in contention for a tournament spot.”

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]