UMass struggles to finish its chances in 1-1 draw against Merrimack

The Minutewomen capitalized on only one of their 22 shots 

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Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics

By Kevin Schuster, Assistant Sports Editor

In a productive yet inefficient day on the pitch, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team were held to a 1-1 draw after double overtime despite its dominance in all areas of the field.

The Minutewomen (3-2-1) shot 22 times, seven reaching the target, forcing Merrimack goalkeeper Michele Silva to make six saves on the day.

UMass, who typically start slow through the first 45 minutes of play, stepped up its game through the back half of the match, controlling possession in the midfield and having a lockdown back line that shut down the majority of offensive attacks the Warriors (0-4-2) sent its way.

“In the second half we got better,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “We certainly created a lot more of our chances in the second half. We talked about the game plan which is really finding our midfield and switching the point of attack and getting around the side. Getting around the side is really what opened them up for us to create those chances.”

Getting the ball to the offensive third was not the issue for the Minutewomen, whose inefficiency testing the goalkeeper played the biggest role in holding them back from scoring a handful of goals.

“It looked like a bit of a sloppy day for us in the final moments,” Dowiak said. “Some of the passes, some of the shots were just not the quality we’d expect.”

In preparation for the game, UMass had focused on delivering those balls to the wingers who would drive down the line and cross it in. Despite the finishing, Dowiak believes the most success on offense will still come through those chances.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our wide players but a lot of it is the creation of our forward opportunities and final third entries,” Dowiak said. “We wanted to give them a snapshot of what we expected to see in order to create those great passing lanes. I think we’ll still try to find dangerous areas through all areas of the field, but I think that’s the way we use our style of play to create chances.”

By maintaining a high level of pressure throughout the midfield over the 110 minutes, the Minutewomen’s legs began to feel the effects of playing six games in three weeks. As their players began to slow down, passes and shots failed to have the same zip as they did in the first half, and in prior games.

“We’re six or seven games in now, have tired legs a little bit, and some of these players have played a lot of minutes so I’m happy we have a long week here to play for Northeastern,” Dowiak said.

“We’ll look at the film and make some adjustments.”

UMass is set to face the Huskies in Brookline on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.

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