Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass fall to La Salle 2-1, closing its window to make the postseason

The Minutewomen drop to second in A-10 North standings
Christopher Tucci/Atlantic 10

On the brink of Atlantic 10 tournament play for its third consecutive season under head coach Jason Dowiak, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team fell to La Salle 2-1. UMass (5-4-1, 4-2-1 Atlantic 10) now drop to second place in the A-10 North standings.

“It was a frustrating one for us,” Dowiak said. “We didn’t start well, and we didn’t show up to really compete tonight until it was a little out of control and chaotic. When games go that way against a team that wants it to be that way it’s hard to get a grip back on the game. Our girls battled until the bitter end, but we dug ourselves a pretty significant hole and hopefully we can reconvene this week and get ready for Fordham and get another win and hopefully progress onto the postseason.”

With this loss, the stars need to align for the Minutewomen if they hope to make the A-10 tournament. The Explorers (6-2, 3-2 A-10) now sit atop the A-10 North with two games left in their season, making UMass’ regular season finale a must-win game.

Amhira Louketis blasted home the first goal of the game for La Salle one minute into the second half. Louketis rocketed a shot from 30 yards out into the top right corner of the net which was too far for Alyssa Chase, who had been subbed in just 60 seconds prior to the goal.

“Alyssa [Chase] has had to face the two best shots I’ve seen in my three years at UMass,” Dowiak said. “It’s just unfortunate for her. It was a bad giveaway in midfield from the left side playing negatively when we didn’t need to so I wouldn’t put it on our defense but the fact that their number six [Louketis] was able to dribble across the field as far as she did, I knew if she got a shot off it would be a good shot but not that good.”

Nine minutes later, the Explorers doubled their lead by way of another shot from distance as Kelli McGroarty was able to chip the ball over Chase who was off her line after a quick turnover in the Minutewomen midfield.

“It was frustrating because we had total security of the ball,” Dowiak said. “I think Alyssa tried to change the point of attack a little unnecessary in that moment, I think we could have kept possession a little bit smaller. We thought it may have been offside, we’ll have to look at the film. I think Alyssa managed the game quite well after that goal.”

After a slow 30 minutes of action in the first half, captain Fatou Barry returned to the pitch after a month layoff due to injury and made an immediate impact on the offensive side of the ball. Barry made her first dangerous impact with 11 and a half minutes left in the game when her potential game tying header flew just wide of the left post and out for a goal kick.

“I was very impressed with what she did tonight,” Dowiak said of Barry’s performance. “She was performing the best of our center forwards and that’s why she started the second half. I really considered putting her back on in the last two or three minutes, but her hamstring was in the back of my mind and I want her to be able to continue to progress and play next Sunday. I think she will continue to be the impact she has been in all the games she’s played in and will help us get a result next weekend.”

The goalkeeper battle continued for the Minutewomen as newcomer Bella Mendoza earned the starting job after making numerous successful appearances throughout UMass’ COVID condensed season. In what was a slow defensive battle throughout the first 45 minutes of play, Mendoza utilized her well-rounded foot skills to maintain possession along her back line. Mendoza is not one to be in a scurry as pressure arises, but rather faces it head on and completes critical passes when needed.

Chase and Mendoza are both trusted by Dowiak and the rest of the Minutewomen coaching staff and both play half of their games for that same reason. If UMass are able to squeeze into the A-10 tournament however, Dowiak hopes to put his faith all in one keeper to play the full 90 minutes.

“If we make the playoffs at this point, I think we’re trying to make a decision on what makes the most sense for us to be as competitive as we can be,” Dowiak said.

The lone Minutewomen goal came midway through the second half as Lindsay Wolf headed home a corner kick from Lauren Bonavita which slid into the top left corner, over the head of the Explorer’s defender. Wolf earned her first goal for UMass in her second year at the program. After losing its star player in Melissa Kossler this off-season, the Minutewomen have had to rely heavily on their depth in offensive positions and its newcomers to give UMass a chance to succeed.

The Minutewomen will close out the regular season against Fordham, Sunday April 11 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Kick-off is set for 3 p.m.

Kevin Schuster can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @KevinESchuster

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