Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen fall at home on Senior Day

Despite loss, UMass secures tournament place

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Minutewomen fall at home on Senior Day

By Amin Touri, Sports Editor

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The Senior Day festivities could only keep spirits up so long for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team, as the Minutewomen fell to Virginia Commonwealth at home on Sunday.

A VCU (12-3-0, 7-1-0 Atlantic 10) mishit cross found the back of the net midway through the second half, and it was all the Rams could need as UMass (10-4-, 5-2-1 A-10) pressed late but couldn’t find the equalizer.

“I thought we played well,” said UMass coach Jason Dowiak. “Started slow, and VCU is known for coming out and being really aggressive and high-press mentality and we weathered that. Our girls broke the pressure and created chances. I don’t know how the ball didn’t go in the net today. We created the number of chances and quality chances that we would’ve expected a goal.”

After the teams went into halftime scoreless, the Minutewomen dominated play in the second half, firing eight shots to VCU’s four in the final 45 minutes. Despite having much of the ball late on, UMass could not finish any of its chances.

“Hard to say,” forward Erin Doster said of the offensive struggles. “We had the ball most of the half, 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 chance for the Minutewomen fell to Sini Laaksonen, who produced the game’s best moment of quality – after her free kick attempt was blocked, the ball fell back to Laaksonen, who fired a shot on her left foot from 25 yards out and forced a spectacular save from VCU goalkeeper Audrey Sanderson. Laaksonen’s strike was undoubtedly goal-bound, before Sanderson got a fingertip on it and pushed it over the crossbar.

“Their keeper made an unbelievable save on Sini in the second half,” Dowiak said. “We did enough today.”

The lone goal of the game came from VCU sophomore Samantha Jerebek, who looked to cross the ball in from the right side, but her mishit cross floated back goalward and drifted over the head of UMass keeper Peyton Ryan, a frustrating way for the Minutewomen to fall at home.

“It’s a little frustrating when you give up a goal that’s unlucky like that,” Dowiak said. “It’s just a mishit ball that floats into the back of the net but it happens. We move forward and the girls played really, really well and we’re headed still in a really good direction to feel confident going into postseason.”

Despite the loss, it was an encouraging performance against one of the conference’s elite teams, as the Minutewomen controlled possession and created chances throughout the game, but just could not find the final ball to produce an equalizer.

“We always try to maintain possession,” said senior Paige Kozlowski. “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.”

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

And despite the loss, UMass has locked down an A-10 tournament spot, with ninth-place La Salle seven points behind the Minutewomen with only two games to play.

“It’s really refreshing,” Kozlowski said. “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.”

The Minutewomen will host Saint Louis on Thursday, before wrapping up the regular season at Dayton on Oct. 21.

Amin Touri can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Amin_Touri.

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