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 looks to bounce back from recent loss to VCU against Saint Louis on Sunday

The Minutewomen look to bring the pressure to an offensive Billikens side
Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

Coming off a loss in an overtime thriller against VCU, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team felt rejuvenated at Friday morning’s practice and is looking forward to displaying a dominant showing Sunday against Saint Louis.

“Energy,” UMass coach Jason Dowiak said on what he hopes to see from his side this weekend. “We got in front of the goal a ton this week. This was the best week [of practice] we’ve had. The best straight week I can remember in the last four years honestly.”

The Minutewomen’s (7-3-3, 3-1-1 Atlantic 10) seven-day break from action, which is typically met by a mid-week Thursday matchup, didn’t come easy. UMass’ demanding practices, however, have led its mentality in the right direction going into its last three weeks of the regular season.

“I think they hit their wall a little bit yesterday,” Dowiak said. “They were a little low energy, but they bounced back and finished the session well and it’s just been awesome to see the group realize what’s possible but also what it’s going to take to win this weekend and hopefully set ourselves up for winning this league still.”

UMass is set to take on the Billikens (5-7-1, 3-2 A-10) who struggled at the beginning of the season but has seen their offense click since the start of conference play. Saint Louis began the season with uncharacteristically poor results after finishing 15-1-1 last season and going undefeated in the A-10.

“I think that they’re very dangerous offensively,” Dowiak said. ​​They haven’t scored a lot of goals on the year, but they have scored a lot [in conference play] and historically they are very potent offensively. We want to put them under pressure so those attacking players can’t be as big a threat as they have the ability to be and try to take control of the game as early as we can and hopefully get up a goal or two early.”

Saint Louis has scored eight of its 14 total goals in its last five games. The Minutewomen have been dominant however in their back three of Ava Jouvenel, Fiona Kane, and Juliana Ryan along with both of their goalkeepers Megan Olszewski and Bella Mendoza. That consistent security blanket for UMass will face back-to-back defensive tests, facing a star-studded VCU front three and the Billikens, which will prove a lot to the rest of the A-10 if the Minutewomen can get the job done Sunday.

Despite its most recent loss to the Rams, UMass showed poise in its back line and midfield, playing some of its best soccer of the season in front of the large senior day crowd. VCU were simply able to capitalize on one more chance in overtime that granted them the victory.

“The team is motivated and composed in the moment,” Dowiak said. “Sunday’s game was tough because we did everything we needed to do to give ourselves the opportunity to win and there’s a lot of confidence that came from that but also its motivation to go into Sunday’s game being even more aware of the little details that can sway a game.”

Midfielder Olivia Gouldsbury scored a brace in practice this week, showcasing UMass’ continued development in the offensive third. The Minutewomen midfield have been able to maintain possession and create multiple attacking chances every game throughout the course of the season but are averaging less than 1.5 goals per game, which can put unwanted pressure on UMass’ back line if its game is dependent on them to provide a shutout.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff in smaller settings where it’s live play in front of the goal just to get both our goalkeepers and defenders as primed and ready to face chances as our attacking players get in front of goal and create chances,” Dowiak said. “Hopefully it pays off and we do what we’re capable of doing and create as many opportunities as possible and put them away.”

“That’s the missing piece right now,” Dowiak said. “[We need] consistency from [Chandler Pedolzky], [Karina Groff], our attacking mids, and our wing backs to really continue to put the ball in the back of the net out of the great play that they’re helping us produce.”

UMass takes on Saint Louis Sunday Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Kevin Schuster can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @KevinESchuster.

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