A goal in overtime lifts UMass women’s soccer over Bryant, 2-1

Lauren Smida scores game winner in the 98th minute

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Chris Tucci/ UMass Athletics

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

It was a battle until the end for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team that added a tying goal with just minutes to play in regulation, before capping off the comeback in overtime, defeating Bryant 2-1 on Thursday.

The Bulldogs (0-3) got the ball rolling early, finding the back of the net in the 14th minute, but the Minutewomen (3-2) fought off the pressure to keep Bryant off the scoresheet for the rest of the game.

“The way that they played was difficult for us,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “I think it took us a lot longer today than we wanted to get into the game, but once we started to figure out the way we want to play, it was positive, and I think we got a result that we finally deserve by the end of the day.”

UMass struggled to maintain possession in the midfield after falling behind early in the contest, but cleaned up the mistakes and by halftime were outshooting Bryant 8-5. The Minutewomen continued to build that momentum into the second half, but carried their zero on the scoreboard into the final minutes of the frame.

In the 88th minute, UMass was awarded a penalty kick and the fate of the game was on Ava Jouvenel’s shoulders. After the whistle was blown, Jouvenel took the shot and found the bottom left of the net and put the Minutewomen back in the game.

“Ava is our captain,” Dowiak said. “That’s a moment where a captain is expected to step up and she did, and it was a quality finish”

At the end of 90 minutes, UMass regrouped and prepared for overtime. The Bulldogs were unable to get past the Minutewomen defense, only registering one shot on goal. In the 98th minute, Lauren Smida was able to get behind the Bulldog’s defensive line and capitalized on her opportunity to bury an overtime game winner.

“It felt amazing,” Smida said. “We had been trying to get back to our game and possessing and looking to go forward when we could, and I’m happy we found the opportunity that we did and just put it away.”

The game was mostly played in the midfield, with Bryant often getting the first touch on the ball. When they had possession, the Minutewomen would reset in the back, but were scattered once the ball reached the middle of the field.

After the late goal from Jouvenel, UMass had more energy and were motivated to finish the game out and get the win. The Minutewomen were moving the ball and were able to open the Bulldog’s midfield and back line, getting more shots off.

“It was definitely the necessary push we needed,” Smida said. “I think that was a pivotal point of the game.”

Megan Olszewski started the game and came up with three big saves. She got her first time on the field this season during the win against UMass Lowell, coming on for the last few minutes. This game marked her second start of the season, and she played the full 90 minutes, while Bella Mendoza, who started the season in goal, remains sidelined with a minor injury.

The Minutewomen stay home and will seek their fourth win in a row when they take on Merrimack on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Rudd Field and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on twitter @sophieewellerr