UMass falls short in the Atlantic 10 championship to Saint Louis, 4-1

Jouvenel, Kane, Recinos and Lamond named to the all-tournament team

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Mehroz Kapadia / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team was unable to overcome the high pressure from Saint Louis, losing 4-1 in the Atlantic 10 championship. The Billikens (11-8-1, 7-3-0 Atlantic 10) won their fourth consecutive tournament, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“To make it to this game and to compete in the way that we did, and to play as well as we did a lot of this, it’s simply promising, but also is telling that what we’re doing and the direction that we tried to guide them as coaches on the field and off with our culture is right,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “I think the reality that our team is already feeling from today is that we belong and that we’ve got a lot of really amazing tools and every year it gets better.”

After falling behind early, the goal that UMass (11-6-4, 5-4-2 A-10) had been looking for was found in the second half after Bella Recinos sent a ball forward, catching Ashley Lamond on the run to score a goal with Saint Louis’ goalkeeper Emily Puricelli too far out of her net. The tie did not last long, however, as Lyndsey Heckel got her head on a corner kick. UMass was once again in search of the equalizer to keep its season alive.

The Billikens added to their lead after Emily Gaebe got the rebound off a shot taken by Mattyn Summers and put Saint Louis up by two goals with 22 minutes remaining. Despite the amount of time left, the defensive pressure displayed would be hard for the Minutewomen to overcome.

It was déjà vu for UMass in minute 74 after Abbie Miller scored the fourth goal for the Billikens with a header off a corner kick and ended any last hope for the Minutewomen. That was the second goal off a corner kick and third header goal of the game for Saint Louis.

“To come out in the second half with confidence and composure and create our goal-scoring chance, I thought was amazing,” Dowiak said. “It’s hard to walk away from that game seeing that score line and feeling like we might have left some things on the table, but for me, I’m just really proud of the group and how they responded and how they played until the final whistle.”

Saint Louis got the first point on the board after a shot ricochet off the crossbar and the Billiken’s Hannah Friedrich got the rebound, heading the ball and finding the back of the net. The Minutewomen had a good counterattack when Olivia Gouldsbury delivered a corner to the back post and Jouvenel timed her run perfectly, getting a head on the ball, but a Saint Louis defender stationed on the goal line was able to clear the ball out.

Despite the loss, UMass made it to the A-10 championship game for the first time since 2011, with seniors Lauren Bonavita, Mia Carazza and Ava Jouvenel getting to start. Bonavita will remain on the team for another year and will be able to play to her full ability after the past two seasons have left her sidelined or with limited playing time due to injuries. Jouvenel and Carazza end their UMass careers with a successful season highlighted by the longest tournament run for the Minutewomen in a decade.

“You need players to believe in the process and believe in the direction and they’re three amazing seniors that do believe in what we’re doing and have been great leaders this year,” Dowiak said. “Score line aside, they belong in the game and they are a huge reason why we have been able to progress our program over the last four years.”

Jouvenel, Fiona Kane, Recinos and Lamond were each named to the all-tournament team after Sunday’s game. With a young team, the success from this season will carry over into next year, with most of the team showing more comfort with UMass’ style of play.

“The hardest part about today is we walk away with a score line that doesn’t actually state what we did today and what we accomplished,” Dowiak said. “I’m just looking forward to next year already.”

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