UMass women’s soccer holds No. 21 Tennessee to 3-3 draw

Kössler ties match in 86th minute

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UMass women’s soccer holds No. 21 Tennessee to 3-3 draw

(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

(Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Beaton, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s soccer team closed out its non-conference schedule Sunday against No. 21 Tennessee in gritty fashion. UMass (3-2-2) collected their second draw of the season against Tennessee (5-1-1) in a hard-fought double overtime match that ended in a 3-3 tie.

A quiet first half saw only a single Tennessee goal, a free kick from the top of the 18-yard box scored by Sonia Ouchene Salón. UMass, on the other hand, struggled to gain possession and were subsequently outshot 5-3 in the first period.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” coach Jason Dowiak said. “We put in a really specific game plan and wanted to keep possession as our number one mentality. I thought the first half we got a little crazy because it was an intense environment. As the game settled in, we got better and better with possession. I’m excited to see what the stats look like later.”

The Volunteers opened up the scoring again, this time in the second half, making the score 2-0 off the foot of MA Vignola penalty shot. The Minutewomen quickly answered their two-goal deficit, scoring first by way of a Melissa Kössler free kick then tying it up a minute later with a strike from Lauren Bonavita.

“I don’t even know,” said Bonavita, recollecting her game-tying goal. “Melissa [Kössler] came down the end line and she cut it back. We’ve been working on [that play] all week in practice… to be able to play and connect and move off of [Kössler]—she’s such an amazing player.”

Just when it seemed like things were getting better for UMass, Tennessee took the lead yet again on a through ball over the top and down the middle by Vignola, rolling into the net at an agonizingly slow speed. However, down by one with four minutes left to play in regulation, Kössler had one last thing to say, bouncing the second game-tying goal of the contest into the net off a pass that came from the top right corner of the six.

“They’re starting to really understand each other,” said Dowiak on his Bonavita-Kössler-Rebeca Frisk striking trio. “I think Frisk is doing a great job too, kind of, helping to organize that attacking triangle up top. It’s cool to see how quickly they’re starting to understand how they can play off each other.”

The UMass defense, led by goalkeeper Peyton Ryan, contributed in their own way, making several stops by way of hard tackles and shot blocks. Ryan would record four saves on 13 shots faced, allowing three goals.

“We had a feeling that they were going to be really athletic—and they were,” said Dowiak. “The ball is the key to everything for us … the longer we keep possession, the less dangerous [Tennessee] can be. As fast as their forwards were, I thought Fiona [Kane], Ava [Jouvenel], Dani [Sclafani] and Serena [Ahmed] were just unbelievable.”

For a nationally ranked SEC team in Tennessee, UMass held their own by offering the Volunteers their first draw of the season. Before Sunday, the Volunteers had won all of their other contests with the exception of a 1-0 loss to Rutgers on August 29.

“We came out to play,” said Bonavita. “We really possessed well with each other and looked to find each other. We played really well against them; they’re a really good ranked team.”

Today’s match capped off the Minutewomen’s non-conference schedule as they will now gear up for Atlantic 10 play.

UMass will be back in action next Sunday against A-10 foe Richmond. The match set to start at 1 p.m. from Rudd Field in Amherst.

Ryan Beaton is a Collegian staff member and can be reached at [email protected]