An emotional win for Dowiak and the Minutewomen

UMass advances to its first Atlantic 10 final appearance since 2011

Caitlin+Mott+%2F+Daily+Collegian

Caitlin Mott / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team huddled together before the start of the game with head coach Jason Dowiak sharing words of encouragement and motivation, as the Minutewomen (11-5-4, 5-3-2 Atlantic 10) prepared to take on Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 tournament semifinals.

The first whistle was blown, and the offensive prowess combined with the defensive strength was on full display for UMass. Coming off a 5-1 win over St. Bonaventure in the quarterfinals, the Minutewomen were confident in their abilities to take down the Hawks (6-12-2, 5-5-0 A-10) on Friday.

“Ava [Jouvenel] said it to the group before the game that we’re ready,” Dowiak said. “This team is ready, we’re prepared. We are the better team and we just needed to go out and play up to our standard and up to our ability and we did right away.”

Throughout 90 minutes of play UMass and Saint Joseph’s battled it out, with Ashley Lamond scoring her second goal of the tournament in the first half. Despite searching for the equalizer throughout the remainder of the game, the Hawks’ hopes of staying in reach of the game was finished when Lauren Bonavita scored her first goal of the season which put the Minutewomen ahead comfortably.

Following the game, Dowiak and the Minutewomen celebrated the win on the field and in the locker room while in the back of their head loomed the thought of getting ready for the A-10 championship. With only one day to prepare before the championship game on Sunday, recovery is the main objective with the trainers giving every player ice pads and ensuring that they consume a nutritious meal back at the hotel.

Co-captains Jouvenel and Mia Carazza, along with Bonavita have known what this team is capable of all season. Having played for Dowiak during his entire time at UMass, the seniors are determined to get the win for themselves, for the team and for their coach.

“In the late minutes of the game they were getting some chances, but we wanted to make sure that [Carazza] and [Bonavita] and [Jouvenel] were on the field at the end,” Dowiak said. “As our seniors, as our leaders, I think there is a reason that we’re here and they have a part of that in their history over the last four years with us, so I wanted to make sure we got them back on.”

In his first year as head coach, Dowiak led the team to the tournament where they lost in the opening game, but he proved that he could take the team far. In the years following, UMass has made it to the tournament every year, but never able to make it past the semifinals. Now, Dowiak and the Minutewomen have battled their way to the finals.

“It’s amazing,” Dowiak said when asked about what this win means from him. “I’ve known we’ve had the ability to do it for the last three years, and I think we’ve been in more of a driver’s seat kind of position this year [than the last two].”

This season saw a lot of growth and success for UMass, having gone on a 10-game unbeaten streak in September, and suffering just three losses in conference play. The teamwork displayed throughout the games have pushed the Minutewomen to compete at a high level to which they knew they were capable of.

“We feel like we deserve it, but also it’s what we’ve been working for,” Dowiak said. “I’m just so proud of the group.”

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.