UMass women’s soccer strikes late to take a 1-0 victory over Davidson

UMass scores with just over eight minutes left in the game

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UMass women’s soccer strikes late to take a 1-0 victory over Davidson

Parker Peters

Parker Peters

Parker Peters

By Kevin Schuster, Collegian Correspondent

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The 2019 Massachusetts women’s soccer team has a tendency to score late goals. The Minutewomen continued this trend as they scored deep in the second half to grab a victory against Davidson.

With just over eight minutes left in the game, the Minutewomen (7-4-3, 4-2-1 Atlantic 10) netted their first and only goal on the day to beat the scoreless Wildcats (8-6-2, 3-3-1 A-10) in the coldest game of the year.

Lauren Bonavita placed a shot in the top left corner of the goal off an assist from UMass’s leading goal scorer, freshman Melissa Kössler. Kössler had just enough pace on her pass to flick the ball towards the path of Bonavita before Davidson could react and clear the ball away.

“There were many deflections off of many players,” Bonavita said. “But after it came through to Melissa, she laid it off and I was there to poke it in.”

The Minutewomen had a great chance to open the scoring 25 minutes into the second half, as Ansley Melendi and the UMass offense delivered multiple shots in a quick span. Those shots were deflected by a compacted Davidson back line, which played strong throughout the whole game. The Wildcat defense held Kössler, the national player of the week at the end of September, to only one shot.

Earning her second shutout of the season, Peyton Ryan provided five saves on the day for the Minutewomen. Four of her five saves came in the first half, but with the lack of activity in the final 45 minutes, Ryan needed to keep herself focused.

“I definitely try to keep watching the game and talk to my defenders as much as possible,” Ryan said.

UMass made tactical adjustments to their roster, as Bonavita, the lone goal-scorer of the day, played just 12 minutes in the first half and didn’t come onto the pitch in the second half until the 71st minute.

“I was warm and energized to provide fresh legs onto the field,” Bonavita said. “Davidson was already pretty worn down from the continuous game.”

Scoring late isn’t necessarily the game plan for coach Jason Dowiak’s side, but he doesn’t mind the time of the goals as long as UMass is scoring. Stamina and determination have been leading the Minutewomen this season as late surges have provided them with five of their seven wins on the season.

“We showed a lot of resilience and stick to our game plan and have some moments late in games,” Dowiak said. “We would like it to be earlier, obviously, but it’s comforting on the sideline knowing we can always keep ourselves in the game.”

Davidson came out fast, shooting seven of its nine shots in the first half. The Wildcats applied heavy pressure early, with four shots coming in a span of nine minutes after the opening whistle. Gretchen Pearson led Davidson with three shots, two of them forcing a save from Ryan.

Physicality remained a huge factor, as the referee was deemed lenient by many people on the UMass coaching staff. Tension grew after apparent missed calls against the Wildcats were quickly called against the Minutewomen. After getting hit with a yellow card against George Washington, Dowiak remained relatively quiet on the UMass sideline.

The win continues UMass’s three game unbeaten streak, and gives it its first regular time victory in the last four games. The Minutewomen stand at third in the A-10 with three games remaining, trying to contend for home field advantage in the A-10 tournament.

UMass travels to Pittsburgh for a matchup against Duquesne Sunday, as the Minutewomen continue their conference play in hopes of solidifying a top position in the A-10 standings.

Kevin Schuster can be reached at [email protected]