Strong offense proves too much for UMass in 6-1 loss to Pitt

Bella Recinos scored the only goal of the contest for the Minutewomen

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Sophie Weller, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team couldn’t keep up with Pittsburgh’s strong offensive prowess in Thursday’s contest, losing 6-1 on the road.

“We had a tremendous fight,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “They were just very dynamic, and their movement was something different than we’ve seen.”

Early in the second half, Olivia Gouldsbury took a shot from behind the 18-yard box, ricocheting off the crossbar and to the feet of Bella Recinos, who was in the right place at the right time and tapped in a goal. That marked the third score of her career and provided UMass (1-2) with its only score of the day.

“It was a phenomenal strike actually from [Gouldsbury] initially,” Dowiak said. “For [Recinos], she’s such a hunter of the ball, whether it’s in possession or to find the goal, and so she just got herself in a position to be ready for anything that might pop back out and was ready for the moment.”

The Panthers (3-0) got on the board early after Amanda West sent the ball through UMass’ back line and to the feet of Emily Yaple. With no defenders in her way, Yaple’s easy tap evaded the hands of goalkeeper Megan Olszewski and trickled behind the white line signaling a goal. With the Minutewomen forced to defend frequently and being unable to push the ball forward, this goal was just the start for the Panthers.

After the recording the assist on the first goal, West earned a score of her own just minutes later. In the 20th minute, her right-footed shot went into the bottom right of the goal to give Pitt an early two-goal lead.

The scoring did not cease.

Ashley Moon hustled down the right sideline, beating freshman defender Sarah Flanagan and found Samiah Phiri, who tapped the ball into the net for the Panthers third goal of the match. Afterwards, Bri Hilsenteger was fouled by Lauren Robles in the box, and Ashton Gordon buried the penalty kick.

Flanagan took the field at the start of the game in a position typically held by captain Serena Ahmed, because she was rested again for precautionary reasons.

“It wouldn’t have been the best game for her,” Dowiak said about Ahmed’s injury. “We want to keep everybody as healthy as we can, and if they aren’t healthy, we want to get them healthy before we get into conference play.”

UMass’ luck did not turn in the second half, with the Panther’s scoring a mere 30 seconds into the final 45 minutes. West then went on to score her second goal of the day after heading the ball in off a cross from Yaple.

After the Minutewomen’s only goal, Pitt didn’t let them celebrate for too long, quickly responding with a goal from Landy Mertz.

In the Minutewomen’s third game of the season, Olszewski earned the start once again, and despite putting up a strong front in the opening minutes, Pitt began proved to be too much for the junior goalkeeper. At the half, Katie Russel made her debut for UMass after not seeing any game action in her freshman year. The sophomore recorded three saves, while allowing two goals.

“[Russel] has been training really well,” Dowiak said. “She had a really good spring. She has been bidding her time … It was [Russel’s] turn and she came in, and even though we gave up a goal early in the second half. She played phenomenal and she made two or three unbelievable saves herself.”

The Minutewomen finish their road trip with a match up against Robert Morris on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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