Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Despite scoring zero goals, Minutewomen still optimistic

Seniors, Dowiak reflective after senior day loss

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Despite scoring zero goals, Minutewomen still optimistic

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Evan Marinofsky, Collegian Staff

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A zero-goal effort in any sport is typically not looked at in a positive light. But for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team, Sunday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to the Virginia Commonwealth University soccer team was an exception.

The Minutewomen (10-4-1, 5-2-1 Atlantic 10) came out of the gate flat on offense, only registering one shot in the first half. But in the second half, UMass kept the pressure constant on VCU (12-3-0, 7-1-0 A-10) with eight shots.

The Minutewomen saw the game as an instance of luck just not being on their side.

“We had the ball most of the half,” said senior Erin Doster. “We outshot them by a lot. I think it’s just one of those unlucky situations where they get a lucky goal and we don’t register one.”

The best scoring chance for the Minutewomen came in the 58th minute, when junior Sini Laaksonen almost floated one past VCU goalie Audrey Sanderson but was denied at the last second.

“I was hoping that dropped in,” said senior Paige Kozlowski on Laaksonen’s chance. “It was a really good save.”

Even though UMass kept coming up short on attack, head coach Jason Dowiak was pleased with the overall offensive output.

“No worry,” said the first-year head coach. “The creation is the hardest part to figure out most of the time and we have some really talented goal scorers. We’re sharing the wealth in that and obviously a lot this year, between Erin [Doster], Rebeca [Frisk], Lauren [Bonavita] and Jenny [Hipp] and finding some other players who are getting opportunities too. It’s just about fine tuning it. The end of the season is about the flow and sometimes that lucky bounce, and they got their lucky bounce today.”

Kozlowski continued the optimistic trend when looking at the squad’s offensive performance and their ability to carry out the game plan.

“We always try to maintain possession,” Kozlowski said. “We’re not that direct of a team. When we keep the ball, we run right around them. I think we stuck to that and got a lot of shots.”

With eight shots in the second half, Dowiak ended his scrum with praise for just how good those 45 minutes were.

“I think our second half today was the best one we’ve had in the last seven or eight games,” he said. “I wish we would’ve scored, but I’m really happy with what I’m seeing right now.”

A loss wasn’t enough to kill emotions on Senior Day

Prior to Sunday afternoon’s game, UMass honored their seniors on Senior Day. All seniors walked with their families through a line of their teammates and greeted another with their jersey framed at mid-field. After that, they embraced the coaching staff and ended with lots of pictures being taken.

To say emotions were running high would be an understatement.

“Honestly, I told them before the game I felt we were meant to be here today together,” Dowiak said. “I feel like they were recruited to UMass for me. They fit me perfectly, they fit our staff from a personality and mentality standpoint so well. We love them. They are an amazing senior class, and I’ve had some good ones over the years but for us not to know each other so well or for so long, it feels like we’ve been together for a long, long time.”

“Oh, God,” said Kozlowski when asked about senior day. “I obviously wanted to win on Senior Day, but I’m sad. I’m actually really sad.”

Doster was more focused on the game and kept her emotions in check.

“It’s just cool to be here,” she said. “It’s almost unbelievable; it’s been really fast.”

Both seniors were proud to go out after a great season that defied expectations.

“I think it’s really cool,” Doster said. “I think it’s just something that we want to share with the classes that came before us. We’ve had a lot of alumni who we play in the past who didn’t go out on a good year and just congratulated us on a good season. I really think as much as it is for the current players and our senior class, it’s just as much for them.”

Kozlowski took it as a way to start over after the previous three underwhelming seasons.

“It’s really refreshing,” said the senior. “These last three years we haven’t ever made the tournament so it’s been different. I’m really not used to winning. But yeah, we’re all really happy and we’ve done well but we know we’re not done.”

Since it is Dowiak’s first season at the helm, he has only been with these seniors for this year, but this class still had a big impact on him in a short time.

“It’s emotional, and I’m an emotional guy,” Dowiak said, laughing. “It’s always emotional and every group impacts us in different ways and this senior class is really special.”

The Minutewomen hope to get back on track with a win on Thursday at 3 p.m. when they host first place Saint Louis.

Evan Marinofsky can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @emarinofsky.

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