Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

St. Bonaventure tries to park the bus against UMass women’s soccer

Minutewomen manage 24 shots, 10 on goal
Katherine Mayo

To try to slow the Massachusetts women’s soccer team’s high-scoring offense, St. Bonaventure chose to park the bus. The strategy failed to pan out, as UMass won 1-0 despite the Bonnies’ best efforts.

The Minutewomen (8-2-0, 3-0-0 Atlantic 10) came into Thursday’s game winners of six straight games and averaging 3.43 goals per game. The Bonnies (0-8-4, 0-3-0 A-10) came in on the other end of the spectrum, conceding an average of two goals per game over their recent six-game skid.

“It was a different look than we expected from what we saw on game film,” Dowiak said. “They sank in and defended in front of the box with a lot more numbers than we expected them to.”

The Bonnies invitation of pressure, coupled with UMass’ possession-heavy approach, led to a lopsided 24-2 edge in shots for the Minutewomen.

“They were really just packing it in,” Jenna Thomas said. “We had to speed up the play, if they were giving us that much space we had to take that and make them work harder which makes more space for us to play through.”

St. Bonaventure could only withstand so much pressure before Sini Laaksonen notched the breakthrough. After Bonnies goalkeeper Lauren Malcolm failed to corral a low cross, the ball fell to Laaksonen’s feet before she slotted it into the back of the net.

The success in finally scoring against the stifling defense was credited to halftime adjustments.

“We talked about trying to play longer passes at halftime,” Dowiak said, “and we tried to stretch them out east and west a lot more, which worked. I mean, the goal came from a ball up the right side.”

Though ultimately in vain, Lauren Malcolm stood tall between the posts, turning aside 10 shots in a losing effort. The junior was peppered with 15 shots in the first half alone, eight needing to be saved.

Early in the game, many of UMass’ shots came from outside of the box due to the congestion in front of the net, including two narrow misses from long range by Sarah Beaulieu. Laaksonen put a free kick mere feet wide of the top right corner that would have put the Minutewomen on top 19 minutes into the contest.

“We had to be more creative, because if they’re going to have 10 people there, there has to be something special to break the pressure,” Laaksonen said.

The struggling Bonnies did not back off their strategy following the goal, managing only one more shot after going down a goal.

Because of the style of play chosen by the Bonnies, their main source of offense came from quick-hitting counter attacks, trying to pick out their lone striker on long balls. The UMass backline was up to the task though, only allowing one counter attack to end with a shot, with St. Bonaventure’s only other shot coming off a corner kick.

“Our three center backs knew that today’s job was going to be dealing with one player, their centerforward,” Dowiak said. “We did a good job at pressuring in order to take the easy long ball away.”

Though the Minutewomen came away with a win, the style of play the Bonnies forced them into was not one that made Dowiak and the team excited to play that way again.

“It’s difficult to play against that kind of a team,” Laaksonen said following the game.

However, UMass still managed to walk away from the game with their perfect Atlantic 10 record intact and win their seventh straight contest.

Noah Bortle can be reached at noahb[email protected] and followed on Twitter @noah_bortle


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *