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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Women’s soccer has a senior night tune-up

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Women’s soccer huddle up before a game. Photo by Sarah Harlinski / Beacons Athletics.

After a well-deserved senior night ceremony on a beautiful night in Boston, an out-of-conference matchup awaited UMass Boston Wednesday, Oct. 25. The Bridgewater State University Bears made the trip out to James Cotter Field and were riding a three-game hot streak, also coming out victorious in five of their previous six matches, according to bsubears.com. (1) The Beacons came in having suffered a home Little East Conference loss Friday, Oct. 20 to Vermont State University Castleton, as noted by Beacons Athletics. (2)

The Little East Conference playoffs are approaching rather quickly, and the Beacons know it. The team has been building all year to play well come playoff time, and it was time for them to break into a groove and carry that into the games that matter most. A great chance to do so was against the Bears, who sat atop their respective conference, the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference; they held a record of 9–5–1 coming into their matchup with UMass Boston, according to mascac.com. (3)

“Trying to get one early makes a big difference; it allows us to carry momentum,” said Head Coach Amy Zombeck when asked what it means to keep scoring trends up this time of year. Clearly, UMass Boston is focused and looking to build these big-time games into big-time performances.

The Beacons’ play echoed Coach Zomeck’s pre-game comments, as they performed with intensity off kick-off. The Bears opened the shooting quickly but were met with UMass Boston’s senior night surge. The Beacons owned mid-field for the first ten minutes of play and hardly gave anything up defensively. Disrupting and shutting down plays early stood out for the home team; Senior Caileigh Sullivan had a strong start making an impact in the defensive zone and set up the offense to make impactful plays.

While controlling play to begin, not much was heading toward the net for the Beacons, and this continued to be the case as play balanced out. UMass Boston’s constant pressure fizzled midway through the first half, and the Bears began to gain time in the attacking zone.

A non-manufacturing, less than cohesive-looking Bears offense didn’t display much creativity, but at least pushed the ball into danger—the front of the net. Doing what UMass Boston wasn’t helped make up for Bridgewater State’s otherwise shaky showing. However, as the Beacons struggled, the Bears’ sophomore Olivia Robarge tilted the pitch a little and pushed the ball down the field, threatening UMass Boston. As the Bears pressured, Robarge quickly made multiple moves to advance the ball into the Beacons’ territory.

However, the Beacons’ defenders stood tall, dominating the perimeter of their own end, all the while either thwarting the ball early or only leaving opportunity for weak offerings to the net.

Preserving UMass Boston’s offensive presence was graduate Kaylee Haynes, hailing from Bridgewater, Mass. When asked during warmups if there was any extra significance or motivation in this matchup against her hometown, Haynes replied, “I feel extra motivation ‘cause it’s my senior night […] I think we’re just really motivated. We had a bad loss [Oct. 20], and I think we’re just ready to get back out there.”

Haynes, the Beacons’ leading scorer, reinforced their tone of motivating and building for what’s to come. She also led the team with her impressive offensive skills. Opportunity—hard to come by for the Beacons late in the first half—followed her, which led to pressure late in the half. Ultimately, she was unable to connect, and the first half ended scoreless.

Coming out of halftime, UMass Boston again began firing on all cylinders, gaining two corner kicks, three throw-ins and three shots, all in the first five minutes. The Bears’ defensive front folded to the Beacons due to costly turnovers from the MASCAC (3) Defensive Player of the Week, Bears’ goalkeeper Logan Levesque. Three straight punts off Levesque’s boot turned immediately into possession for the Beacons. This time around, Bridgewater State’s saving grace was their ability to jam the middle and keep the Beacons to the outside.

Still, sloppy play got sloppier for the Bears, as UMass Boston’s Andrea Rivera disrupted yet another attempted clear and blasted a laser, beating Levesque bar-down. Rivera’s rocket came from nearly twenty yards out, and the Beacons opened the scoring with a bang.

However, the lead didn’t last long, and the Bears silenced the crowd about a minute later, pushing the ball downfield for a corner kick, to which the team’s leading scorer, Sydney Dewhurst, flew up high in the sky for a header to knot the game at one. UMass Boston had switched keepers between halves; Julia Cote came in, allowing a goal in the first shot she saw.

It was a good response from the Beacons once again; they retained constant control over game flow following the game-tying goal. It helped that Bridgewater State’s offense was nearly invisible for the ten minutes after they had tied things up, but traction was growing for UMass Boston as they continued to make an effort looking for Kaylee Haynes.

Haynes found herself in the open field off a fluid transition upfield. She made a nice move inside and set up sophomore Ashely Palmer, who unfortunately moved the wrong way and led the pass to a turnover.

Palmer and Haynes remained active offensively in the second half, as Palmer advanced the ball a couple times and overcame unlucky positioning on occasion, even using her strength to gain a free kick. Haynes’ quick moves and decision-making skills were apparent all night, and the Beacons tried to find her in every way they could down the stretch.

The two teams both hit offensive lulls, locked up until UMass Boston started to attack and connect passes consistently again with ten minutes to go. Cote steadied her performance while the Beacons’ defense strengthened. Sullivan continued to make her presence known, contributing to the flow of the Beacons’ late offensive attacks.

As time dried out, one final opportunity for UMass Boston presented itself amid a back-and-forth battle during the final five minutes. Sullivan drove a ball from close over the net in the final seconds, and as the clock ticked down, it resulted in UMass Boston’s final out of conference game to end in a 1–1 tie.

The Beacons came away with a lot of positives, as they dominated the majority of the contest and rose to the occasion when they needed to. It was a great showing against Bridgewater State’s blazing team. Zombeck and her Beacons will still be looking to boost momentum to their offense, as it’s certainly needed, but consistency will come in due time, their game plan being to come out aggressive and attack more on offense. With playoffs next on the schedule, it’s crucial for the Beacons to adopt this strategy moving forward, because with how great they are defensively, they’ll be able to hold their own against the LEC’s best. It’s only a matter of time before they really go on a run and prove themselves as one of the toughest opponents to face in the tournament. 

  1. https://www.bsubears.com
  2.  https://beaconsathletics.com/
  3. https://www.mascac.com/