Best moments from UMass Women’s Soccer 2019 season

Looking back at the Minutewomen’s defining moments last season

Parker+Peters

Parker Peters

By Kevin Schuster, Assistant Sports Editor

With a 10-6-3 record, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team secured its third 10 or more-win season this decade. With head coach Jason Dowiak rising to the helm in 2018 the Minutewomen have shown great talent, making them one of the most highly anticipated teams in the Atlantic 10 this upcoming season. Last year UMass showed time and time again why it can become the powerhouse of the conference in short time. Here are the best moments of the Minutewomen’s 2019 season.

Melissa Kossler named National Player of the Week

Collegian File Photo

Despite playing back to back road games four days apart, Melissa Kossler was able to secure 11 points on four goals and three assists, leading UMass to back-to-back wins. After falling behind 1-0 to George Mason Thursday Sept. 26, Kossler rallied the Minutewomen to a 4-2 victory, scoring both the second and third goal for UMass and recording an assist for its fourth.

Three days later she recorded a new season best against Saint Joseph’s factoring in on every goal in the Minutewomen’s second consecutive come from behind victory. With 20 minutes left UMass trailed 3-1 but Kossler made it her mission to find a way to win. In the 73rd minute, Kossler drove home a free kick which sparked a surge for her side. Six minutes later Kossler headed the ball to the far post to Fatou Barry who tapped it in. Only 43 seconds later Kossler would then net the game winner in one of her best performances all season.

This was one of many comeback performances on the year for the Minutewomen, whose resiliency was nothing short of spectacular throughout the season. Dowiak had encouraged his players throughout the season to play to the last minute and give it their all.

“Our motto the last couple weeks has been, ‘Find A Way’ and today we did just that,” Dowiak said. “I’m so proud of our team’s resilience on the road to come from down in both matches against very good opponents.”

UMass dominate Fordham in A-10 quarterfinal

Without the likes of Kossler who was called up to play for the German National team, the Minutewomen defeated the Rams in their best all-around performance of the season. With the defensive line building its chemistry throughout the season, they seemed to have hit their peak.

“It was the most complete game we’ve played all year,” Dowiak said. “We probably could have put two or three away in the first half, but their goalkeeper was fantastic. We played a perfect game; we knocked the ball around and created little numerical advantages all over the field and it was exactly to our game plan.”

As well as UMass played in the first half, they started the second like they had something to prove. What seemed to be an all-out attack, the Minutewomen knocked on Fordham’s door five minutes into the half as Rebecca Frisk had her shot hit off the post. After making its way out for a corner kick, UMass began its flurry of goals. One after another within just six minutes, the Minutewomen turned a scoreless tie to a 3-0 lead. Frisk, whose shot led to the rapid succession of goals for UMass, would put the icing on the cake in the 84th minute scoring on a breakaway.

Sini Laaksonen’s penalty kick in overtime against Rhode Island

Mehroz Kapadia

After a scoreless first half, Kossler was able to provide Frisk with a perfectly timed through ball which she calmly slid past the Rams goalkeeper. With the game seemingly in hand, Rhode Island would start picking up the pace late in the game. In what was a back-and-forth affair, UMass would concede in the final 30 seconds as Rams forward Rebecca D’Anna drew one back tying the game 1-1 right before the end of regulation. Neither team would be able to score again before the final whistle.

For college soccer, if tied at the end of regulation the teams play one overtime with the golden goal rule in effect. If there are no goals during the overtime period, then the game results in a tie.

However, the Minutewomen didn’t take too long in overtime to determine the winner. Three minutes into overtime Rhode Island committed a foul in the penalty area rewarding UMass a penalty kick. Being one of the most stressful moments on the soccer field, senior captain Sini Laaksonen stepped up to the plate. Laaksonen was able to drive it home for only her second goal of the year. After a deflating end to regulation, the Minutemen were able to prevail and keep their wits about them to earn their sixth win of the season.

UMass tie No. 21 Tennessee 3-3

In its last out of conference match of the season, UMass hosted its only ranked opponent in then No. 21 ranked Tennessee. After going down 2-0 to the Vols in the 64th minute, Kossler led another comeback, scoring a free kick from 23 yards out to boost the Minutewomen’s hopes for a comeback. A minute later Kossler would surge down the field yet again with Lauren Bonavita lurking in front of net. Kossler was able to deliver a great cross to Bonavita who struck home UMass’ second goal of the game.

Tied 2-2 with momentum on their side, the Minutewomen would concede for the third time with 15 minutes left in the game. To no one’s surprise Kossler would score again and tie the game at three apiece. In overtime neither team could find the back of the net despite promising chances by both sides. Ending in a tie, this game solidified UMass as an elite program with enough talent to go toe-to-toe with the best of the best. The Minutewomen would go on to win six of their next 10 to close out the regular season.

Securing home field advantage in A-10 playoffs with win over La Salle

Parker Peters

In their final home game of the season, the Minutewomen would take control late netting four goals in the second half to defeat La Salle 4-2. Following the trend of the season, UMass conceded first, going down 1-0 four minutes before the end of the first half. Bonavita, who would end up being the top goal scorer on the season for the Minutewomen, would open the scoring with a long-range effort from 20 yards out, electrifying the crowd.

“Once I get the ball I always look to see if there’s a chance to shoot,” Bonavita said. “I thought it was open, so I just took the shot.”

Tied 2-2 with five minutes to go, UMass would score twice in quick succession to win 4-2 and remain in third place in the A-10. With this victory, the Minutewomen would clinch home field advantage in the first round of the A-10 tournament where they defeated Fordham.

Kevin Schuster can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kevineschuster.