UMass Lowell midfielder Laura Gagnon (14) moves the ball downfield against UAlbany midfielder/forward Alexa Schneider as Rachel Morrier follows the play. Gagnon got the assist on the winning goal by forward Jaymee Luke. (Photo by George DeLuca/Connector)
The UMass Lowell women’s soccer team executed a designed play for a goal when they needed it most — in the final minute of play against the UAlbany Great Danes.
The two equally-matched teams delighted the crowd with non-stop action until the River Hawks sealed the deal, clinching a 1-0 victory with the clock ticking down on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Cushing Field.
Sophomore forward Jaymee Luke came in off of the bench in the final few minutes in what appeared to be a strategic move by Coach Joel Bancroft to add fresh legs at the most opportune time.
Bancroft agreed. “Our depth has been a real strength this year. We’ve been able to sustain a higher median level of intensity with players like Maddie Walsh, Ana Petropoulos, Jaymee Luke, Megan Rauseo, and Courtney Coleman,” he said.
Today, it was Luke who came in focused on making the big play, and she did just that.
With 32 seconds left in regulation play, Luke was positioned near the right sideline when she fielded a pass from junior midfielder Laura Gagnon and dribbled towards the net past Great Danes back/midfielder Kim Dieroff to within 15 yards off the right front corner of the net.
With UAlbany goalie Chloe Borasky hugging the post to cover the angle, Luke lobbed the ball high over Borasky’s head as she frantically tried to move across the box. But the shot had enough speed and trajectory to thread the needle into the left side of the net. It was a beautifully executed goal.
Luke expected such an opportunity at some point. “We’ve been working on the shot in practice with the midfielders,” said Luke. “It was a team goal.” Gagnon was credited with an assist on the goal and had four shots overall. Freshman back Elle Cooper also had 4 shots for the River Hawks.
Sophomore UMass Lowell goaltender Julia Schneider garnered her second shutout of the season while earning six saves for the effort including at least one spread eagle “hit-the-deck” save and two blasts from close-up, one with the sun directly in her eyes. “This is our home field where we train for every situation, so I stayed composed and did my best and was able to make the save,” she said.
Bancroft was pleased with his team’s execution. “We generated a lot of opportunities with 22 shots, so it was nice to finish one in the 89th minute of play,” he said. “Today was a good day.”
Senior Carolyn Ragon looked lively throughout, and was effective on both offense and defense. The midfielder almost nailed a header from about 15 feet out that Borasky (7 saves) was able to get a finger on before the ball bounced off the post. Ragon had 3 shots for the day.
The River Hawk’s (3-4-2) continue their run against American East foes when they meet Maine (5-3) on Thursday at Cushing Field. UMass Lowell then travels to Vermont (5-4-1) next Sunday for a 1pm contest, before heading to Cantonsville, MD to face UMBC at Retriever Soccer Park on Thursday October 6.