The Massachusetts women’s soccer team defeated Davidson College 3-1 on Thursday at Rudd Field, as Atlantic 10 conference play kicked off in Amherst.
Thanks in large part to the play of Erin Doster, UMass was able to go up early in the match before adding on some late insurance to seal the deal over the Wildcats.
According to coach Ed Matz, getting their first win in the first conference matchup of the season is a huge step for the Minutewomen going forward.
“It’s obviously great to start off on a positive note,” Matz said. “You start today and every single team in the A-10 is undefeated and working for the same thing. But it’s the teams that come out and take care of the little things, take care of business in front of the goal and get each other’s backs that [succeed], and I think we did a good job of that as the game progressed.”
UMass was able to jump ahead early in the match, as a shot off the foot of Doster in the 23rd minute found its way to the back of the Davidson net. Gabriela Kenyon and Dani Sclafani recorded the assists.
On her third tally of the season, a team-leading statistic, Doster felt strangely composed before scoring, something she explained isn’t typical of herself.
“It was kind of weird, I felt really calm in front of the goal,” she said. “It felt nice to get out and take the first punch instead of getting a goal conceited.”
Following Doster’s opening strike, play resumed normally through nearly 60 minutes before more action found its way to the front of the Davidson net.
Once again, Doster was involved in the play and found herself all alone streaking down the right side of the Wildcat’s end. On a cross to the front of the net, Doster set up freshman Mollie Williams, who put home her first collegiate goal.
“I saw a lot of open net on the back post and three of our players,” Doster said. “I only saw a goalie and one of their players so when I saw [Williams] making a great run, I just figured if I put a good-enough ball in there that one of those three would tap it in.”
Williams would indeed tap it in and with her first career goal in the 80th minute, put the Minutewomen ahead 2-0 late in the match.
Davidson would make things interesting, however, answering immediately with a goal of their own just two minutes later off the foot of freshman forward Allison Gray, making it 2-1.
But UMass wouldn’t back down.
Off a penalty kick opportunity that resulted from a call in the box in the 85th minute, Sini Laaksonen fired a shot into the top right corner and put the Minutewomen ahead by two with just minutes to go. The tally comes as the sophomore’s first with UMass in her career.
When asked about the stellar play of Doster on Thursday, Matz highlighted her ability to get others involved as well as the wide age-range of players making an impact on the field.
“The goal that [Doster] scored was a great goal and the assist that she had was a great ball to just another freshman who’s contributing, which is good,” Matz said. “We have every single class out there contributing.”
Junior Paige Kozlowski, who was seen at practice Wednesday walking on crutches, unexpectedly came off the bench for UMass and played a total of 67 minutes.
“[Kozlowski] came in and gave us a little jolt,” Matz said. “She’s such good attacking, outside back and gives us another dimension so we were pleased to have her out there.”
Even after attaining the highly-regarded first conference win of the season, Matz and the Minutewomen already have their eyes set on the next one.
“It’s just game by game by game,” Matz said. “As I told the girls, it’s great that we won today but Sunday’s another match.”
Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.