Minutewomen close out season on the road

By Michael Counos

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team wraps up its regular season this weekend when they travel to play Fordham and La Salle.

UMass is currently fifth in the Atlantic 10 standings at 7-9 overall and 4-3 in the conference, while the Rams and Explorers are right on its heels at 3-3-1 in the A-10.

The Minutewomen begin the weekend on Friday at Jack Coffey Field against the Rams. Fordham is riding a two-game wining streak with wins over George Washington and Richmond. The Rams beat GWU, 2-1, and topped Richmond, 1-0, in overtime.

Fordham has been dominant at home with a 6-1 record in front of its home crowd, compared to a 1-7 record on the road. UMass, likewise, has struggled on the road at 2-6. On defense, the Minutewomen will need to be aware of Michelle Ancelj, who has five goals, as well as Katie McDermott and Mariella Romano, each with three.

“Fordham is very organized and extremely well coached,” UMass coach Ed Matz said.

La Salle, meanwhile, is coming off a pair of wins last weekend, defeating George Washington, 1-0, on Sunday and Richmond, 1-0, on Friday. The Explorers are 3-1-1 at home with a high-powered offense led by Renee Washington and Anna Dolhansky, who each have eight goals.

“La Salle has a very strong offense that our defense will need to play very tough,” Matz said.

UMass will be tested on the offensive side of the ball as they face Gabby Pakhtigian between the pipes. Pakhtigian has played every minute of the season and is sporting a 1.44 goals against average, allowing just 27 goals while turning away 91 shots. UMass was defeated 3-1 by the Explorers last year on Oct. 9. as senior Sydney Stoll had the lone goal, assisted by senior midfielder Therese Smith. 

“Both games this weekend are meaningful games as Fordham and La Salle are fighting for a playoff spot like us,” Matz said. “These games will almost be like a mini playoff series I imagine.”

The Minutewomen are coming off a successful weekend double-header resulting in wins over Temple and Saint Joseph’s at Rudd Field. UMass edged out the Owls, 5-0, on Friday, with all five goals coming in the first half, including a three-goal performance by junior Deanna Colarassi.

Sunday, which served as Senior Day, was the perfect storybook ending for the Maroon and White’s graduating class. The Minutewomen won 1-0 over the Hawks as Smith scored the golden goal with just over three minutes left to play in the first overtime. Jess Howe sent a shot that deflected off a Hawk defender and came to Smith who finished the shot into the right side of the net for her seventh score of the season. The victory marked the highest win total for UMass since 2007.

“Our games have been close all year and our team has been playing with high intensity and hopefully the success that we have had at home will carry onto the road this weekend,” Matz said.

Michael Counos can be reached at [email protected]