UMass looking to expand on offensive strengths against Rhode Island

The Minutewomen are 2-0 in conference play

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UMass Athletics

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

Coming off a win against George Mason, Ashley Lamond and the Massachusetts women’s soccer team are preparing for Sunday’s matchup against Rhode Island and looking to improve their eight-game unbeaten streak.

Lamond excelled in Thursday’s game recording an assist in the first half when she found Karina Groff on the wing who sent a long ball in to back of the net. Coming out after half, Lamond quickly scored a goal of her own when she received a pass from Juliana Ryan and sent the ball over the Ram’s (3-4-1, 2-0-0 Atlantic 10) goalkeeper, Sarah Cuttler.

“We want to get more shots off early on and be a lot more forward thinking in the first 10 minutes of the game,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “We’re good enough to score when we want to. We’re good enough to create chances. It’s really just a mindset at this point.”

The Minutewomen’s (6-2-2, 2-0-0 A-10) first shot came eight minutes into the game but was saved. George Mason opened the game early with three shots but were unable to create more movement offensively throughout the rest of the game.

Although Rhode Island struggled at the beginning of its season losing four out of its six nonconference games, but it has shown strength in conference play. In their last matchup, the Ram’s outshot George Washington eight to three on net.

UMass will look to send more balls through the wings and more crosses into the box. Freshman Chandler Pedolzky’s role early in the season has been receiving balls through the middle, but now she is stationed in the box and looks to get a foot on balls that are sent in from the sideline.

“It would be great if we go through the wings, especially through players like Mia Carazza and Ashley Lamond that really can like get in behind teams and serve good balls,” Dowiak said. “Chandler’s great in the air too and she’s great in the box. So, we don’t want to get away from her checking out, getting on the ball, or linking up with our midfield.

Mia Carazza has shined since returning to the field after an injury left her sidelined at the beginning of the season. Her ability to get around defenders is unmatched and her speed and skill with the ball allows her to create opportunities.

Thursday’s game also saw the return of Bella Mendoza who had not seen time since the third game of the season against UMass Lowell. She replaced Megan Olszewski, who left the game with two saves, and played the final 19 minutes.

The main struggle for the Minutewomen this season has been moving the ball through the midfield and offense when they are under pressure. George Mason gave UMass a lot of space offensively and they were able to capitalize on that, but the true test will be if they can maintain that level of play and possession when a team presses.

“George Mason was good, and they had some dangerous counterattack moments for sure, but they didn’t press up like we saw at Duquesne, like we’ve seen from most teams,” Dowiak said. “When we’ve comfortable the ball moves, and I think that’s what we want. So, we want to be able to do it whether we’re under pressure or not.”

The Minutewomen return to Rudd Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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