Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

Women's Soccer Settles for 2-2 Tie against UMass

Women’s soccer couldn’t defy precedent, surrendering a tying goal in the final minute of Thursday’s matchup against UMass and failing to record their first ever away win against UMass. Minutewomen defender Julianna Ryan would score with 58 seconds left to make the score 2-2 and hand the Eagles their first tie of the season. Sam Smith and Andi Barth were the goal scorers for the Eagles. 

UMass’s Ryan would score her first collegiate goal off of UMass’s fifth corner to give the Minutewomen the tie. Taking advantage of the chaos in the box, Ryan capitalized, pouncing on the ball as it bounced out to her on the left side of the six-yard box and poking it through the lunging Wiebke Willebrandt to make the score 2-2 in the dying seconds of the second. NCAA rules did away with overtime during non-tournament games this year, meaning the game was all but certain to end in a tie with Ryan’s goal. 

Sam Smith struck first though, tallying her 20th career goal and third of the season in the 16th minute with a through ball that split the UMass defense. UMass goalkeeper Olszewski came off her line to try and clear, noticing that a Minutewomen defender had already been beat, but Smith took a touch to her left around Olszewski and with her left foot, fired across her body. The ball skipped into the right corner, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead over UMass.

But two minutes later, the Minutewomen would equalize with a goal from Lauren Bonavita in the 18th minute. Racing down the left side, Bonavita beat her first defender before cutting inside to the top of the box. Sensing the separation between her and the BC defender, as well as the oncoming Willebrandt, Bonavita took a touch before sending the ball into the left corner, finding space between Willebrandt and the Eagles defender to make the score 1-1.

With eight minutes left in the first half, goalkeeper Willebrandt saved the Eagles, who were caught in the transition and did not have numbers back to defend the goal. UMass took their space, passing into the box, before passing to an open player near the top right of the box, who quickly scuffed a shot towards the near post that Willebrandt, moving the other way, was forced to change directions and dive for, saving it at the post and keeping the score 1-1. 

The Eagles looked disjointed in the first, unable to connect passes or maintain possession, especially in the midfield, often opting to clear the ball either out of bounds or booting it down the field instead of passing their way out of trouble. Luckily, Willebrandt kept the Eagles in the game, aided by strong desperation defense and UMass’s inability to get a clean shot off. Tellingly, the Eagles committed nine fouls in the first, resulting in two yellow cards, while UMass committed eight, demonstrating the difficulty both teams had in building sustained, cohesive pressure.

The second half continued in much the same way as the first, with UMass finding pockets of space to exploit into shots on goal, especially on the Eagles' wings. Meanwhile, the Eagles struggled to find chemistry and build pressure, failing to get a shot on goal for the first thirty minutes of the second. Head coach Jason Lowe opted for regular substitutions, trying to find 11 players who could mount sustained pressure on the UMass defense.

Andi would score what appeared to be the go-ahead goal in the 77th minute, rebounding her own shot to give the Eagles the 2-1 lead. Racing onto a ball from the right corner, Barth first fired off a shot that Minutewomen goalkeeper Megan Olszewski blocked point blank, but the rebound bounced back to Barth, who made no mistake in putting the second ball away, tucking it low and into the left corner, finally breaking through the deadlock to make the score 2-1.

The tying goal was not wholly unexpected, with UMass having two previous chances that nearly went in. One came off a corner in the 56th minute, where Willebrandt saved the ball at the near post, but didn’t fall on it, allowing the ball to trickle out into the box and creating a scramble that eventually ended in the Eagles’ managing to clear. The second chance came off a UMass shot that Willebrandt saved pointblank, before the referee whistled that the play had gone out of bounds prior to the shot.

Next up, the Eagles (3-1-1) take on Boston University (2-2) at BU in the Battle of Comm Ave. Sunday at 4pm.

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