UMass recovers from a scary start to defeat Richmond 2-1

Minutewomen claw back from being down 1-0 three minutes into the game

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Caitlin Mott/ Daily Collegian

By Kevin Schuster, Assistant Sports Editor

After losing two consecutive games last week that ended a historic 10-game unbeaten streak, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team were able to bounce back and defeat Richmond 2-1 Thursday afternoon.

It would not come easy for the Minutewomen (8-4-3, 4-2-1 Atlantic 10) however, after a couple of deflections slotted the ball straight into the path of Spiders (6-7-1, 4-3-0 A-10) midfielder TJ Anderson who rocketed the ball into the top of the net.

“We started really well,” UMass coach Jason Dowiak said. “We had three shots before they had that chance within a small window of time. I think you go forward and get this excited start to a game, and you get a little bit disorganized, and they did well. They countered us well and the ball kind of dropped unluckily to them and their No. 15, who’s a good player, banged it home. It’s frustrating but also part of the game.”

Defense has been one of the Minutewomen’s strong suits this season. Allowing a goal just over three minutes into the game put the back line in uncharted territory that they haven’t had to overcome much this season.

“It’s always tough going down, especially that early, at home but I’m just really proud of us because our response to score within the next few minutes was huge and a really big challenge,” junior Fiona Kane said. “I’m just really proud of our response and how we were able to finally settle down and play our type of soccer.”

One minute after Richmond’s opening goal, Chandler Pedolzky beat her defender 1-on-1, giving her a brief second to cross the ball to the center of the box where Ashley Lamond made the most of the opportunity. Lamond headed the ball down and passed the hands of Richmond goalkeeper Claire Hinkle.

“We have a feeling always that the goals are going to come,” Dowiak said. “They know what they’re doing, they don’t do it all the time, but they know what they’re doing. There is that sense of relief of course, we finally got [the goal], can we get another one, but it’s not desperation mode for us.”

Throughout the second half, the Minutewomen were able to push their wingers higher up the field, allowing Lamond to break free from defenders and create more chances herself. The freshman forward lost a defender but rifled the ball off the crossbar. Lamond then made up for that opportunity, scoring shortly after in the 64th minute, hitting the crossbar once again but getting the fortunate bounce over the line to give UMass a 2-1 lead.

“It feels really good [to score two goals],” Lamond said. “It feels good to come back from a tough two games and it feels like we’re getting back in our groove … I feel like I just went down the sideline one time and started to gain confidence and realize that I could do it, so I just kept going.”

Entering half time, rather than Dowiak addressing the issues and how to resolve them, he resorted to midfielder Lauren Smida, a usual starter who has been working her way back from an injury, to give the team a much-needed talk from a different perspective.

“I hadn’t prompted anything but sometimes it’s better coming from a player’s eyes or player’s mouth, and she just gave some ideas about how successful we were when we changed the point of attack and it’s how we opened the conversation,” Dowiak said. “When we talk at halftime, we do a lot of talking of course, but we want it to be kind of a dialogue and the team had ideas that we agreed with, and we tried to put it into action.”

Sara Moushegian gave the Spiders their best equalizer opportunity in the 81st minute, gliding the ball towards the top left corner of the net. UMass goalkeeper Bella Mendoza made one of her best saves of the season, acrobatically flying through the air to parry away the ball with her outstretched glove and keep her side in the lead.

A main focus for the Minutewomen throughout the season has been to maintain their legs and optimize their recovery. Thursday’s game provided UMass another opportunity to get some of its bench players quality reps as it nears postseason.

“We got some players rotated in,” Dowiak said. “I thought Emily McCormack came off the bench and gave us really good minutes; she had a really good chance with her shot on frame. I saw some quality from everybody whether they started or came off the bench and I’m really happy to see that depth being shown again and finishing out another win.”

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