UMass women’s soccer falls short in season opener to Penn State, 3-1

Chandler Pedolzky records first goal of the season

UMass+Athletics

UMass Athletics

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team took the field prepared for a fight against No. 10 Penn State in Thursday night’s season opener.

The first minutes of the game saw majority of the possession controlled by the Nittany Lions (1-0-0) and a header on net that went out wide. Once the game settled, the Minutewomen (0-1-0) became more organized, creating opportunities offensively.

“I’m just really proud,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “I love that one game into the regular season, were looking as dynamic and as in-sync as a group as we are already.”

The first half ended in a scoreless battle, with Penn State having nine shots, with only one on goal. Freshman Chandler Pedolzky and Bella Recinos had three of the four shots on goal for UMass, but both were saved by the Nittany Lions goalkeeper Katherine Asman.

Pedolzky, a local athlete from Westfield, Massachusetts, is known for her offensive strengths and scoring abilities. Last season saw struggles for UMass on offense with the inability to convert opportunities in the top third of the field and find the back of the net. This game saw more action close to the net, with multiple shots taken.

“She is a player that we know is going to be a name we talk a lot about,” Dowiak said. “She is still figuring out how to play in the way we want to play, but she turned something into nothing.”

In the 50th minute, Pedolzky recorded her first collegiate goal, giving the Minutewomen the lead. The team erupted in celebration, piling on top of the freshman.

The celebrations were short-lived with Penn State getting the equalizer a minute later. UMass’ defense was overcome with pressure in the following minutes. In the 57th minute the Nittany Lions pulled ahead with a header by Ally Schlegel. Soon after, they scored their final goal of the night in the 61st minute.

Despite the loss, the Minutewomen team saw many positives in their performance. The starting lineup featured many new faces who are all learning how to play together and with the returning players.

“We started nine freshman and sophomores tonight and only two upperclassmen,” Dowiak said. “We have 12 new players, 10 freshmen and two sophomores. It doesn’t feel like they are new, it feels like they have been together for a long time.”

Bella Mendoza played the full 90 minutes in goal, after splitting time with Alyssa Chase last year. Penn State finished the game with nine shots on net, with Mendoza saving six. Fiona Kane and Ava Jouvenel returned on defense and helped lead the team.

UMass had a shorter break than normal after playing in the spring due to the pandemic. Many of the returning players arrived over the summer prepared to work, while also help teach and lead the new members of the team.

The Minutewomen will continue traveling to face Boston College this Sunday in Chestnut Hill. The game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SophieeWellerr