Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass picks up 0-0 draw against Vanderbilt

Bella Mendoza makes six saves in shutout
Sophie-Zoe Schreyer
Daily Collegian (2022)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team escaped from Nashville with a 0-0 draw against a strong Vanderbilt team.

Battling against hot temperatures , the Minutewomen (1-0-1) were able to withstand pressure all afternoon from a relentless Commodore (1-0-1) offense and keep them off the scoreboard.

As time began to wind down in the second half, Vanderbilt was attempting one of its nine corner kicks on the day. The ball was sent towards the back right post of the UMass net where the ball was headed by Caroline Betts of Vanderbilt. From just a few feet away, UMass goalkeeper Bella Mendoza made a reflexive save with her hands but allowed the ball to kick right back to the Commodores. As soon as it hit the ground, Hannah Mclaughlin delivered a strong shot that Mendoza made another remarkable save on.

Mendoza made five saves on an afternoon where Vanderbilt delivered a relentless attack on the UMass defense. The senior was on the top of her game to keep the Commodores off the board.

“[Mendoza] was unbelievable in the second half,” head coach Jason Dowiak said. “There were like four or five corners that they put right on her and she just made great intelligent saves and made a few other saves through traffic where we were just like ‘how did you even see that?’”

In the final five minutes of the first half, Vanderbilt delivered two of its strongest scoring opportunities of the game.

First, a shot from outside the penalty box made its way over goalkeeper Megan Olszewski’s head and was inches away from floating into the net before 20 stuck her leg out to keep the game at 0-0.

Less than three minutes later, Vanderbilt took a strong shot on goal from inside the penalty box that was saved by defender Carolina Benitez.

The Minutewomen were outshot 23-4, but only six of the Commodores shots were on target. This was due in large part to strong defense from UMass’ backend.

Minutewomen defenders kept Commodore strikers uncomfortable all afternoon. Vanderbilt had its fair share of opportunities, but it seemed as though Minutewomen defenders were giving the Vanderbilt attack a hard time.

“You go in with a game plan like that, where you’ve got to stay connected and close and not allow spaces for these opportunities,” Dowiak said. “To see just how committed they were to not giving up a legitimately free look on frame, so many blocked shots.”

A strong early season test like this gives UMass some assurance that it can play with any opponent they take on.

“It’s a huge result for us,” Dowiak said. “We did not have an easy game on Thursday night, and we’ve been traveling for the last five days and its incredibly hot here. To get a draw on the road against an SEC opponent that’s very good, this is a huge positive result for us.”

The Minutewomen will travel to take on rival UMass Lowell Thursday, August 24. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Lowell at Cushing Field.

“Our team just committed in every possible way to play our game plan, but more importantly just to stick together,” Dowiak said. “That community and unity on the field fit our game plan and they stuck to it.”

Matt Skillings can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @matt_skillings.

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