Looking for their 14th win in their 18th all-time matchup against Fordham University, the Massachusetts’ women’s soccer offense isn’t the only thing that pulled up short in their 3-2 loss to the Rams.
Junior Paige Kozlowski, a key member of the Minutewomen’s defensive core, has been battling a right ankle injury, and its effects on the game showed. Although typically playing the entirety of the 90-minute match is not uncommon for Kozlowski, she was limited to 67 and 65 minutes in the past two games, respectively.
Kozlowski could be seen exhibiting a more cautious playing style, often backpedaling from her opponent rather than aggressively attacking the ball. The junior was also seen pulling up limping for a few moments during the match.
“In the beginning of the game, during the first half, I didn’t really feel any limitations. Then towards the second half it started bothering me.” Kozlowski said. She added that she couldn’t jump as high, which she felt hindered the University of Massachusetts offense.
Paige started the game and came off in the 36th minute. She returned to the playing field to start the second half, and was taken off in the 71st minute. Kozlowski returned to the pitch one final time in the 77th minute, but was withdrawn five minutes later in the 82nd.
Although knowing her health was not at 100 percent, Kozlowski prides herself on being a fighter, looking to inspire her teammates through her actions. Prior to the game, the coaching staff ensured Kozlowski felt healthy enough to play.
“Before the game they kept asking me ‘Is it okay? Can you play?’ and I consider myself a fighter so yeah I wanted to go on,” claimed the defender. Regarding limiting her time on the field, UMass coach Ed Matz added that “Paige was basically unlimited today,” stating it was her own decision to come off the field when she did.
“If I’m not at the top of my game I don’t want to be on the field. If I can’t get back and they score a goal that’s on me,” Kozlowski said. Matz added that she didn’t feel strength in her ankle, and that her long-term health is the most important factor in this situation.
An injured ankle didn’t stop Kozlowski from being a team player throughout, however. Senior goalkeeper Cassidy Babin stated that Kozlowski’s influence transcends her on-field play, and her fighter mentality inspires the team in more ways than one.
Kozlowski wasn’t alone in the injury department in the loss, as a few minor injuries occurred as well. Sophomore defender Hrefna Petursdottir was seen limping in the 66th minute, and a collision between Fordham goalkeeper Kelly LaMorte and Massachusetts’ forward Kelly Marra left the two on the ground for a few moments.
After the game, Kozlowski was seen with her foot in an ice wrap, observing as the rest of the team participated in a cool down stretch. Additionally, forward Salma Anastasio was also seen wearing a walking boot after the game, as Matz claimed the senior “has a bruise on the bottom of her foot.”
The Minutewomen’s injuries are something to keep an eye on moving forward. As the season rolls onward, no team wants injuries to begin to plague them.
UMass will look to get back into the victory column at St. Bonaventure on Thursday.
Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected]