Minutewomen Clinch Playoff Berth

By David Martin

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PHILADELPHIA .— The Massachusetts women’s soccer team couldn’t extend its win streak to four games against La Salle on Sunday after clinching the fifth seed in the Atlantic 10 playoffs.

The Minutewomen (8-10-0, 5-4-0 A-10) faced a struggling Explorers team that was fighting for the sixth and final seed in the A-10 tournament.

UMass coach Ed Matz knew even before the match that it would be a challenging game to win.

“Today was going to be tough,” Matz said. “La Salle had to win to earn a playoff spot, and we had already clinched ours [on Friday]. They had that level of intensity that we didn’t at this point.”

The Explorers (10-8-2, 4-4-1 A-10) got going early with strong offensive play that seldom left the UMass zone. That steady attack led to their first goal of the game from a perfectly placed chip shot by La Salle attacker Renee Washington in the 35th minute.

La Salle kept up the scoring in the second half as Amanda Komarnicki put away a rebound from Leigh Gray’s blocked shot 61 minutes, 53 seconds into the game. Morgan Golden would then put the game away in the 85th minute with the third and final goal of the game.

The Explorers out-shot UMass, 11-7, on the day and led in corner kicks, 8-3.

Matz was sure to point out that there were other factors at work that worked against the Maroon and White.

“We were also tired and pretty banged up,” Matz said. “We played on turf fields this weekend, which present a lot of challenges for a team who practices and plays on grass at home. Throughout the game, only the back four were really able to keep up, while our midfielders and attackers had trouble making plays. We just didn’t work off the ball.”

Starting goalkeeper Emily Cota found herself on the wrong end of a strong collision with an opposing attacker just before the second Explorer goal. She was down on the field for several minutes before being carted off to waiting medical staff. Backup keeper Emersyn Pullan played the final 28 minutes of the game and recorded one save while allowing one goal.

UMass solidified its second consecutive postseason birth with a hard-fought shutout win against Fordham on Friday.

The Minutewomen held off a tough Rams team on the road in their pursuit of the postseason with clutch performances by attacker Deanna Colarossi and goalkeeper Emily Cota.

Matz was very pleased with the team’s effort in the victory.

“We did a great job on Friday,” Matz said. “Fordham’s good at home and we were able to pull off a great emotional game. Diana scored a great goal and we had strong defense that was highlighted by Emily’s performance in net.”

The Maroon and White got on the board early with the team’s first shot off of the boot of Colarossi. Her goal in the 18th minute was the only goal of the night and her team leading ninth of the season. It would prove to be the only tally needed as defense worked hard to keep the Rams (7-10-1, 4-4-1 A-10) at bay.

At the end of the game, the Rams led the shots with a staggering 17-4 advantage and also led in corner kicks, 5-4. UMass led in fouls, 6-3.

Cota’s performance in net was her best of her three consecutive shutouts. She had five saves on the day, with four of them being in the second half. Her biggest saves came in the final three minutes of play, as she held stopped two in the Ram’s last-chance efforts.

David Martin can be reached at [email protected]