UMass looking to pick up second win of the season against UMass Lowell on Sunday

The Minutewomen tied their last two contests

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Caitlin Mott / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Assistant Sports Editor

Despite a rough start to the season, all of the Massachusetts women’s soccer team’s pieces are beginning to click for the with conference play looming. The Minutewomen (1-2-2) will look to snap out of their current rut and pick up their second win of the season against UMass Lowell at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

After a three-game away trip for five days, UMass returned home for a short stint at home, kicking off with a draw against Boston College on Thursday. The theme of the game was perseverance, refusing to give up even when they were down a goal with the seconds continuing to tick away. However, their prayers were answered as Juliana Ryan found the back of the net in the 89th minute, capping off an impressive showing from the sophomore

Ryan recalled that the mindset amongst the team was clear: “We need to finish this.”

“That just comes from practice, hard work, resilience from the entire team, not just one person,” Ryan added. “So, for us to all come together and to work out for us was really, really good.”

A new rule was issued at the start of the year, allowing games to end in a tie after the initial 90 minutes. In the past seasons, they would play in extra time, with the first team to score a goal being named the winner, but that will only be used in the postseason. This is an attempt to model the game more similarly to professional soccer.

This change could be seen as a benefit to the Minutewomen after tying their past two games against tough competitors. Specifically, the tie against the Eagles (3-1-1) was the first time in Dowiak’s five-year tenure as the head coach that UMass did not lose to Boston College.

However, despite the accomplishment, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

“Just to keep a level head, be humble about what we just accomplished,” Ryan said on Thursday about looking ahead to the next game. “There’s also stuff that we could work on as well, that we need to get better at, but this was definitely a good improvement from our last few games.”

At the start of the game on Thursday, UMass looked shaky coming out of the gate. Simple passes looked sloppy, being given to the other team, or sent out of bounds despite an open player.

“It’s some of the little details, the simplest of passes that we play a little too heavy or we play a little too sloppy, or we play a little inaccurately that forced us to run,” Dowiak said. “If we can just fix those moments, even by a little bit. One percent better every day, then that changes the game quite dramatically… So, I think that’s the biggest thing for us is just getting cleaner, more consistently. And I think that makes a big difference for us and we get closer to the goal.”

The Minutewomen have also been working their way through different injuries. Captains Serena Ahmed and Fiona Kane battled small ankle injuries to start the season, and despite playing multiple minutes throughout almost every game, they are being closely monitored. The one who has yet to take the pitch since the season opener is Karina Groff. The junior forward’s contributions to the offense in past years have been memorable, and while she is also battling her way back from an ankle injury, her return is expected to be soon.

“We anticipate her getting back on the field maybe as early as Sunday,” Dowiak said. “She does seem to be progressing much faster than we anticipated initially, but she’s kind of built that way. She’s such a tough kid and she’s so athletic, that her body heals faster than you might think, than we might have expected.”

With the campus buzzing due to student move-in, UMass will take the field at home on Sunday at 3 p.m.

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