B.C.’s Smith strikes winning goal in final minutes as Minutewomen drop season opener

UMass drops first contest 2-1

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B.C.’s Smith strikes winning goal in final minutes as Minutewomen drop season opener

By Ryan Beaton, Collegian Staff

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In an in-state matchup between two high-powered women’s soccer teams from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with time expiring, it was Boston College’s Sam Smith who fired the ball into the far side of the net to send Massachusetts to a 2-1 season-opening loss.

With the game tied 1-1 in the 88th minute, Smith took a pass and dribbled down the right sideline before shooting across the net to give BC (1-0) the lead. Left with precious little time to respond, UMass (0-1) came up empty.

As discouraging as a loss is, especially on opening night, coach Jason Dowiak tried to remain positive with the hope that UMass is still on track for a strong season.

“For us, tonight was a test,” Dowiak said. “If we can play with our very first opponent in 2019, then we feel like that will set us up for success the rest of the year.”

In order to find the most recent UMass-BC women’s soccer matchup before Thursday, you’d have to go back 17 years to 2002, the last time the two teams played each other in the regular season. That ’02 Minutewomen squad would open up their season campaign with a 1-0 loss at BC.

Unfortunately for UMass, not a whole lot would change nearly two decades later, with the Minutewomen falling short yet again on opening day in Newton.

“They’re an ACC team,” Dowiak said. “They have some athletes that are on a very high level. I’m actually really impressed with how all our players handled that.”

While each team earned a yellow card in the match, the Eagles appeared to have a slight physical edge, making aggressive tackles against the Minutewomen.

“It’s really cool to see that all of our players are ready for those physical moments,” said Dowiak. “We want to get better; we want to get stronger. I actually feel pretty good about where we were tonight with [physicality].”

Action commenced quickly in Newton, with BC’s Sam Agresti nailing home a one-time corner kick in just the fifth minute of play. The rest of the first half was quiet, however, with both teams rifling off shots but no luck for either squad.

Just under 22 minutes into the second half, freshman Melissa Kossler put UMass on the board for its only goal of the day. A corner kick by Ansley Frazier was launched into a scrum of both teams, followed by a loose ball and a Kossler strike that stayed on target.

Kossler, a late entry for UMass, arrived in Amherst Monday, had her first practice on Wednesday, then saw action and recorded a goal in Thursday’s contest.

“She’s just on another level,” said Dowiak. “She’s been practicing with the U-19 national team most recently. She was the leading goal scorer for Germany in the European championships back in July. We knew she was coming in match-ready, so that’s why we felt comfortable putting her on the field.”

In addition to praising his midfielders in general, Dowiak had special praise for Frazier, another freshman, who stands 5-foot, 1-inch tall.

“Our little one, Ansley Frazier, is going to the smallest player on the field every game and she probably got more tackles on [BC] than any other player on our team tonight,” Dowiak said.

The Minutewomen will be back in action on Sunday at Providence College, the second of a three-game road stint to open up the season. Game is set for a 6 p.m. start.

Ryan Beaton can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ry_beaton.