Grace Pinkus’ lone goal lifts UMass over St. Bonaventure, 1-0

Lauren Bonavita finishes the contest with a game-high six shots

Collegian+File+Photo+%282022%29

Collegian File Photo (2022)

By Sophie Weller, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team has been a different group since the start of conference play and its success continued in a 1-0 win against St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon.

“We played really well against a well-organized and high-energy opponent,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “We played with so much composure and so much confidence throughout the entire game and it was the closest I’d say we’ve played to a full 90 for us. So, to our standards, we created a ton of chances.”

On the play that awarded UMass (4-5-5, 3-1-2 Atlantic 10) its only goal of the game, Chandler Pedolzky started the offensive strike, sending in a shot from the right corner of the box that skimmed the top and went out of bounds. The officials ruled that the ball was deflected by a Bonnies (2-5-6, 0-5-1 A-10) defender, which set up the Minutewomen to take the corner.

It was Olivia Gouldsbury who ran over to take it and her cross landed perfectly at the foot of Grace Pinkus, who with a light one-touch tap, sent the ball into the back of the net. The goal marked Pinkus’ second of the season.

“It was a really nice serve from [Gouldsbury] for [Pinkus’] goal which was fantastic,” Dowiak said. “We’ve become a very effective set piece type of team which is nice because we work on that type of stuff. It’s nice when it works out.”

In the first minute, UMass almost took the lead after Karina Groff charged down the left sideline, sending a low pass into the center, finding Ashley Lamond. Lamond positioned herself perfectly, firing the shot, but St. Bonaventure goalkeeper Chiara Gottinger dove and scooped it up. Gottinger finished the day with 13 saves.

The Minutewomen’s offensive dominance continued throughout the first half, outshooting the Bonnies 13-6, with five of UMass’ shots being on goal. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Emily McCormack sent a long cross in, with Gouldsbury stationed at the back post. She attempted to volley the ball into the net, and while it looked like it might go in, the chance was robbed by Gottinger who used her height to get a hand on the ball and knock it over the goalpost.

“It was a game built for the way that [Gouldsbury] plays, and the things that [Gouldsbury] does really well especially offensively,” Dowiak said.

Dowiak also praised the defensive efforts from captains Serena Ahmed and Fiona Kane, who were dominant in front of Bella Mendoza, along with midfielders Ella Curry and Lauren Smida.

“The quality from [Kane], [Amhed], [Curry], and [Smida] today, for me, that might have been each of their four best games that I’ve watched them play,” Dowiak said. “They were great on the ball, they were great defensively, they were organized.”

Ahmed was sidelined with an ankle injury, but since returning, she has made a positive impact. Ahmed appeared to be in pain after a play during the Minutewomen’s past game, but she returned to the game later and was a starter for the Minutewomen on Sunday.

“[Ahmed] is so important, she’s one of the best soccer players on our team, she’s one of the most composed players on the team,” Dowiak said. “She just understands the game at a higher level than I would say pretty much everybody and that composure she plays with often gives the players around her a lot of more confidence.”

After struggling in non-conference play to start the season, UMass has looked at all A-10 games as a clean slate, which has proven to be effective. With this win, the Minutewomen pick up their third victory in the conference play, moving them to third place behind Dayton and Saint Louis who both remain undefeated.

“Today, we had everybody that came on, it wasn’t necessarily in the initial starting lineup, came in and made a positive impact on the game and I just said to the team afterward, ‘we’ve positioned ourselves really well,’” Dowiak said. “But the biggest reason why is not because individual players are doing things special or overly complicated. It’s because we are working really hard, and we are staying together, and we are focused and that’s how they’ve been in training.”

“And I think playing some of the opponents we played like Pitt, Harvard, [Boston College], and [Boston University] and [UMass Lowell], all these teams are having good years, so it was a competitive out of conference slate and were in all those games with the exception of the Pitt game,” Dowiak continued. “So, we were ready for the level, and now it’s starting to come together piece by piece.”

UMass will return to the pitch at home for a matchup against Saint Louis at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8.

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