Minutewomen look to prolong their season with a win at George Mason

UMass fell, 1-0, in its previous matchup with the Patriots


(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Noah Bortle

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team’s Atlantic 10 Championship dream begins on Saturday with a rematch, on the road, against George Mason.

The quarterfinal pits the fourth-seeded Patriots (13-5-0, 8-2-0 Atlantic 10) against the fifth-seeded Minutewomen (11-5-1, 6-3-1 A-10), with the winner moving on to the semifinals, and the loser’s season ending.

The game is a rematch of a closely contested game on Oct. 7 in which George Mason’s lone goal was enough to end UMass’ nine-game unbeaten streak.

“We’re excited about the game,” coach Jason Dowiak said. “It’s an opportunity to redeem ourselves after a loss that we felt like we maybe should have won.”

Although the Minutewomen failed to win the last match between the two sides, they feel that game could have gone either way. Because of this, not much is going to change in terms of game plan the second time around.

“We want to start the same way that we did,” Dowiak said. “We had plenty of chances, we got into the box a ton, we were just a foot or two a way a couple of times. The only thing we would change is putting away one or two of those chances.”

George Mason possesses not just one of the most dangerous attackers in the conference, but in the nation. Freshman Emma Van der Vorst leads the A-10 in points (30) and goals (13), scoring the decisive goal in the regular season meeting between the teams.

“[Van der Vorst] is just a really good finisher,” Dowiak said. “For us it will come down to attention to detail; our back line has been so good, we’ve only allowed 11 goals all season.”

While UMass respects Van der Vorst’s ability, they also know it will take the entire Patriots team to beat them.

“The girls in the back have to do their job and be aware of her,” Dowiak said, “but if we keep possession and create our chances, she can’t do too much on her own to hurt us.”

“If you focus on one player, that takes away how we defend as a group,” forward Erin Doster added.

UMass finished the regular season ranking second in the A-10 in both goals-for and goals-allowed average.

Although Van der Vorst has been prolific up top for George Mason, they offer a middle of the road offensive attack, finishing fifth in the A-10 with 1.83 goals per game.

“I think this a really good opportunity for us to go into their place and have a really good match,” freshman forward Lauren Bonavita said.

With a lot on the line Saturday, a chance at extending their season at least another week, the Minutewomen will focus on staying relaxed and focused on the task at hand.

“We feel like if the girl’s demeanor, their attitudes, are having some fun with it then we can get back to business and preparing tactically for a really good opponent that we want to show up well for,” Dowiak said.

The quarterfinal match is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at George Mason Stadium.

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