Beacons Open the Season Victorious

Shun Hasegawa

“That was a great game. I was glad to see that they played really hard to push through for ninety minutes.” Head Coach Gretchen Randall commented after the UMass women’s soccer team (1-2-0) won the first game of the season against Eastern Nazarene College by 2-1 on September 7, thanks to the junior midfielder Katherine Olsen’s two game-saving goals. According to the Athletics Department, it was the program’s first time winning the season opener since the team defeated Emmanuel College two-nil back in 1996.

As the Beacons dominated the match for the first 30 minutes, Olsen’s first collegiate goal came in right on cue during the beginning of the first half. When Olsen, a right wing, received a pass from sophomore midfielder Justine Buzzell, she took the goalie head-on and shot a forty-five-degree right-kick that denied Eastern Nazarene goalie Melaina Genovese’s attempts at blocking.

Olsen should be credited more for her second goal. At the 26th minute, junior midfielder Meghan Tansey passed from the left to Olsen who chased the grounder vis-à-vis the goalie. With a swift response and outstanding speed, Olsen scored with a sliding shot to make to tip[ the score boards in favor of UMB, 2-0.

Eastern Nazarene eventually decided to take some chances by gathering passes to the athletic forward Kristen Vasta. At the end of the first half, her right-footer winged the left edge of the post to make the game less one-sided. “We just got tired. We are still not in a game shape.” Randall commented about her team’s ineffectiveness after the first 30 minutes.

UMB continued to suffer from Vasta and the Nazarene’s effort to tie the game in the second half. Vista shot six times, all of them on goal, and Nazarene outnumbered the Beacons in shots by 16-8 overall. But the Beacons’ defense line, led by senior defender Kristen Smoyer, worked hard not to give Vasta a any shots as the freshman goalkeeper helped secure the win with her 15-saves debut.

Despite the memorable victory, the team had a key injury in the reliable sweeper. Smoyer didn’t feel good after the game and was sent to a hospital due to an infection and missed the next two games. In addition, Meehan had a concussion due to the crash with Vasta in the second half yet she shut the opponent out for the rest of the game. And She also played the two other games. Randall commented about the hurt, “it was amazing that they played really hard for ninety minutes while they didn’t feel good. Even I didn’t know that there were something wrong with them.”

The Beacons saw an ordeal as they lost the second game on Thursday, September 9, against St. Joseph’s College (of Connecticut) by 0-2.

St. Joseph’s controlled the entire game with twelve shots while allowing only the Bacons one, and only one goal. Freshman goalkeeper Kaitlin Ciccarelli, in her debut, gave up two goals in twenty seven minutes. Meehan cancelled those out by saving seven total. Without Smoyer, Tansey led the bustling defense line with a plethora of goal-saving cuts. She also added some spice to the game with her dribble from the defense line to midfield.

On Saturday, September 11, the Beacons came back from 0-2 to tie the game in the final half, yet they allowed a money-shot goal at the ninth minute of overtime so as to fall short of a victory.

From the outset, UMB suffered from the Fitchburg’s superior ball control, technique, and speed. In the first half, Fitchburg’s midfielder Lexie Jenkins, from the left side launched a well-intended shot a hairline above the hands of leaping Meehan into the goal.

To make matters worse, the Beacons received an unexpected blow at the 55th minute. Fitchburg was granted an indirect free kick 10 yards from the goal after Meehan’s foul. With Fred Astaire quickness of foot, Kristen Hayward kicked the ball into the Beacons’ net.

Although the scoreboard indicated that the Beacons were trailing by 0-2 with 10 minutes to go, they hadn’t thrown in the towel just yet. Nearing the end of the second half, Miele, leading with three defenders, made a goal with her first shot of the day. A miraculous comeback was accomplished when Maillett and Olsen entrusted the ball to Miele who shot a goal, tying the game with 11 seconds to go. “It was awesome. We were down 0-1, then 0-2. But it didn’t matter. We kept believing ‘We’ll get them’,” Miele commented.

Riding the wave, the Beacons grabbed a golden goal-opportunity 30 seconds after the whistle with Olsen’s right-footer ground shot that was caught by the goalie. However, this later turned out to be the only shot by UMB during overtime.

After recovering from some serious threats, at the 99 minute game’s end, Fitchburg’s Hayward received a pass, and scored a game-ending goal.

Despite the two consecutive losses, players and coaching staff are not too unhappy about the result. Miele said of the team’s future, “We have much better team than last year. We got some good recruits this year. Just come to the game. Girls have gone wild.” Assistant coach Marina Michahelles added, “We saw the team coming back from 0-2 and scoring twice in the last ten minutes. Though we lost the game, we could see great potential of this team today. We are hopeful that this team is going to be successful.”

The next home game is scheduled for Saturday, September 18, at 1 p.m. against Keene State College.