Teamwork is the key in UMass women’s soccer 1-1 draw against Rhode Island – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Teamwork is the key in UMass women’s soccer 1-1 draw against Rhode Island – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Cohesion has led Minutewomen to nine-game unbeaten streak

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team huddled together at the start of the game relaying messages of strength and positivity going into the matchup against Rhode Island. The stands were packed and fans cheered as the University of Massachusetts (6-2-3, 2-0-1 Atlantic 10) battled to a 1-1 draw in double overtime.

“The first 20-25 minutes was the most connected I feel like we looked,” UMass coach Jason Dowiak said. “I think it’s just the relationships they have off the field. They want to be together. They spend a lot of time together, so I think it’s starting to show more and more each game.”

The Minutewomen started the scoring off early with Karina Groff finding the back of the net three minutes into the game. As the first half continued, however, the Rams (3-4-2, 2-0-1 A-10) were able to create opportunities and get shots on goal too.

“We were trying to start the game stronger,” Ava Jouvenel said. “That has been an issue for a while and I think we really like, from the warmup, really brought the energy.”

UMass played through its wings against Rhode Island, often finding Ashley Lamond and Mia Carazza down the flanks of the pitch, while Groff and Chandler Pedolzky controlled the midfield. The conclusion of the game saw the Rams outshooting UMass, 14-13.

The Minutewomen’s bench was electric for the final 10 minutes of overtime, and much of the motivation for the players came from their fellow teammates.

“It’s tough when you are not the one on the field to continue to bring that energy,” Dowiak said. “Our captain Ava [Jouvenel] said going into overtime that we need you guys.”

Jouvenel heard noise from the Rhode Island bench but was disappointed with the lack of cheering from her own teammates. She told those on the sideline that the players needed them to provide energy for the team. The Minutewomen responded with energy to help boost the players on the pitch.

With such a young team, Jouvenel along with the seven other upperclassmen, have helped lead the younger members.

“The sophomores had a different type of first-year college experience, so they are still learning what it is like to be a college student,” Dowiak said. “I think our three seniors and five juniors, they’ve really come together as a group of eight to try to set the right tone and be the positive example of how we need to act and how we need to behave, and they have helped set those relationships.”

Due to the pandemic, UMass was unable to play in the fall of 2020 and it wasn’t until Feb. 28 that the Minutewomen took the field once again. A shortened season combined with no fans and limited travel made it so new players did not get a chance to adapt to a traditional year of play. With the spring season ending and the new season right around the corner, Dowiak and his players only had a short time to prepare.

A lot of the team returned in August to begin training and learn how to play together. Relationships were built and Dowiak credits this team’s determination, stating that this is the best cohesion he has seen in his four years at UMass.

Teamwork is what will help this UMass squad succeed and reach their end goal of qualifying for the A-10 Tournament. The Minutewomen continue with conference play on Thursday against George Washington with kickoff set for 3 p.m.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.

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