UMass dominates St. Bonaventure in Atlantic 10 quarterfinals

The Minutewomen score their highest tally this season


Judith Gibson-Okunieff / Daily Collegian

By Kevin Schuster, Assistant Sports Editor

Opening the Atlantic 10 playoffs, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team dominated St. Bonaventure 5-1. In their most complete game all season, the Minutewomen (10-5-4, 5-3-2 A-10) were able to shine in all areas of the pitch, scoring five goals, each by a different player.

“We came into today talking about execution, that we’ve been really close throughout the season and that we could have 13, 14 wins under our belt,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “Man, did we get the execution today.”

UMass faced the Bonnies (7-8-4, 5-4-1 A-10) only ten days prior to the postseason matchup, resulting in a 0-0 double overtime draw which saw no offensive production. Unlike their first meeting, the Minutewomen were consistently able to connect passes through the midfield and play the ball down the wing to Mia Carazza and Olivia Gouldsbury, who played in dangerous crosses all afternoon.

“Well, we played much better,” Dowiak said in comparison to UMass’ 0-0 draw against the Bonnies’ two. “We started slow that day and we didn’t execute well … I think it’s just about [our] mentality and [we had] big players show up in the playoffs.”

Sunday’s quarterfinal saw all of the elements the Minutewomen have been working on in practice finally come together, making themselves one of the most offensively dangerous teams in the postseason.

“What we work on in training and the situations that we put them in is to give them confidence that they’re going to be in that moment and get the reps,” Dowiak said. “Once we started linking up a couple times and got some good looks their confidence went through the roof and I felt bad, but it was impossible to stop.”

Tied 1-1 30 minutes into the first half, UMass subbed in Serena Ahmed who made her presence known in only 30 seconds. Ashley Lamond received the ball on the right-hand side of the box and played a low driven ball to the foot of Ahmed whose first touch of the game knocked the ball past Bonnies goalkeeper Chiara Gottinger.

In the 56th minute, Carazza scored her first collegiate goal in her four-year career for the Minutewomen. Lamond, similar to her previous assist, played a driven ball which Carazza blasted home with authority.

UMass was able to consistently find space around the penalty area, allotting for the influx of goals coming from driven balls through the box that found Minutewomen standing alone near the back post for a tap-in.

Prior to the game, UMass seemingly had a tall task ahead of it, needing to stop the A-10 leading goal scorer Cristina Torres. Creating only a few close chances, the Minutewomen back line was able to shut Torres and company down for a large portion of the match, showing their consistency in the defensive third that has provided a cushion for UMass’ forwards all season.

“[Fiona Kane] is the best central center back in the league,” Dowiak said. “We have a player that’s as intelligent and competitive and composed as [Kane] and then Ava [Jouvenel] who’s our captain, could probably play any position on the field for us and be probably as good as anyone we have in it, she’s such an intelligent player. [Julianna Ryan] is literally a brick wall and will sacrifice any body part or anything she needs to stop them from getting through.”

“When you can stop a kid that scored 13 goals in a season, she scored against everybody, in two games, I think that is a testament to the quality of that group in the back,” Dowiak said.

St. Bonaventure’s only real success came five minutes into the first half. McKenna Robinson went one-on-one with Ryan, eventually being able to cut inside and rifle a shot into the top left corner of the net from 18 yards out away from the fully outstretched UMass goalkeeper Megan Olszewski. After that point, the Minutewomen turned the tide and took over for the final 85 minutes of play.

“We were too stretched out front to back,” Dowiak said. “There was too much space for them to be able to play through and we weren’t very organized in set moments … credit to their kid, she knew what she wanted to do, beat [Ryan] on the dribble and hit an absolute laser.”

“Sometimes you just need that wake-up call,” Dowiak said. “We do that to ourselves a lot but at least we wake up.”

Six minutes after conceding, Carazza was released down the wing with enough time and space to curl a cross to the near post where Lamond was waiting. Heading the ball down and with pace, Lamond beat Gottinger at the near post and stopped any momentum the Bonnies had going their way.

“Today was amazing,” Lamond said. “The fact there were five goals scored by different people every time; St. Joe’s doesn’t know what’s coming to them.”

UMass is set to face St. Joseph’s Friday Nov. 5 in the A-10 semi-finals. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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