UMass women’s soccer prevails on Senior Day, makes playoffs

By Tom Mulherin

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The Massachusetts women’s soccer team entered Saturday’s Senior Day game needing a win in order to potentially continue the careers of its three senior players.

Cade Belisle/ Collegian

With a second half surge in their last game of the season, the Minutewomen (7-8-3, 3-3-2 Atlantic 10) did just that by beating St. Bonaventure, 2-0, giving UMass an Atlantic 10 Tournament berth.

Both teams were held scoreless in the first half and continued to have trouble converting on scoring opportunities until Jackie Bruno put the Minutewomen on the scoreboard over the Bonnies (7-9-1, 4-4 A-10) with a left-footed goal at the 69:52 mark.

“Right from the beginning of the game, with how many crosses and shots we had, we definitely felt like we knew [the goal] was coming,” Bruno said. “It was only a matter of time, and once that happened it was a great spark.”

Bruno’s goal certainly sparked UMass, as everything went its way from there, starting with a goal from Megan Burke less than three minutes later. As frustrating as the first half was for the Minutewomen, Bruno said she expected the momentum swing.

“We talked about it at halftime that once we got that one in the back of the net, it would definitely keep on coming,” she said. “We all had the intensity. We all wanted to win for the seniors. Everyone wanted to score for them.

As for the difference between the two halves for the offense, UMass coach Ed Matz thought that it narrowed down to just the extra-effort from the players.

“At halftime we just said that you got to do what it takes with a little bit more commitment,” he said. “I thought we played a good first half, we came out and played a better second half. We just needed to continue our work.”

The defense was dominant as well in a scoreless effort. Senior defender Lauren Skesavage said that Senior Day, along with the playoff potential a win would bring, motivated the defense to put on such a strong performance.

“We have been reiterating this whole week about how important this game is,” she said. “I think the younger people really wanted to play for the seniors, and I know Grace [Coombs], Brit [Moore], and I were going to give it everything we had. We worked on communication, and really just keeping each other positive and covering for each other.”

The Minutewomen must now shift their focus to the playoffs. But that didn’t stop Skesavage from getting emotional over the end of her final regular season.

“I’m just so happy, it’s really hard to describe,” she said. “I had a couple tears in the locker room before the game. I’m just so passionate about this team and about this school that I was just not ready for it to end, so I’m so happy that everyone came out and we got the win.”

When asked to characterize the team after the season is over, Matz brought some modesty to the moment and said the team was “still progressing.”

“I just think we are a tough team to play,” he said. “We bring energy and we move around, and I just think that if we have the opportunity to get into the Atlantic 10 Tournament, anything could happen.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]