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 shut out on the road by Billikens, 6-0

Minutewomen cannot find offensive spark
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team lost 6-0 to the St. Louis Billikens, who hold the No.1 spot in the Atlantic-10.

After a solid first few minutes from UMass (7-4-4, 4-2-2 A-10), the Billikens (11-2-2, 6-0-1 A-10) struck, notching their first goal of the game. The goal came from a kick just outside the top corner of the box, reaching the perfect height for St. Louis’ Emily Groark to head the ball past goalkeeper Bella Mendoza.

“[We] had some really good moments of possession early in the game, some opportunities to get forward, but then didn’t reward ourselves in those moments,” head coach Jason Dowiak said.

This first goal in the 23rd minute came after the Billikens had previously attempted eight shots, a trend that continued throughout the game. St. Louis finished with 24 shots, 14 of them on goal. UMass, struggling to find its offensive rhythm, finished with only five shots, two of them being on goal.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Dowiak said. “Sometimes when you’re dealing with the amount of pressure that [the Billikens] have put on teams, little moments of turnovers get in your head.”

The Minutewomen’s best attempt at a goal came from Grace Pinkus in the 57th minute to the top right of the goal, ultimately saved by St. Louis keeper Emily Puricelli. Puricelli was not challenged throughout the night, making only two saves.

In almost every possession the Billikens had, they attacked the UMass goal. Dangerous through-balls and soaring kicks left the Minutewomen defenders in difficult spots to stop a shot. The second goal from St. Louis came off a pass from Emily Gaebe barely making it by Minutewomen feet to a sprinting Hannah Larson who kicked it into the bottom right corner of the goal.

“We knew that [the Billikens] were going to be very good on the counter and we didn’t stay as connected as we needed to,” Dowiak said.

The backline for UMass halted many of St. Louis’ offensive strikes early in the first half, helping Mendoza out in tough situations. The Minutewomen, however, could not keep appearances for the entirety of the game, allowing six goals total.

“We just weren’t organized enough and got caught in positional disorganization at times,” Dowiak said.

With the loss of key players due to injuries early in the season, UMass has looked to its bench for success. These substitutions aren’t just from younger teammates, some of them come from more experienced players too.

“To the credit of our team this year has been our depth. Losing players that were starting for us and having players come in and step up … has been a reason we’ve been so successful,” Dowiak said.

The Billikens showed their speed and agility against the Minutewomen on Thursday night. In the last goal of the first half, Gaebe beat defender Juliana Ryan, recovering from an ankle sprain, in a foot race for the third St. Louis goal.

UMass is now onto its final home game of the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 19. The Minutewomen are undefeated at Rudd Field and look forward to the next game against Saint Joseph’s. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

“We love getting home,” Dowiak said.

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46.

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