The University of Rhode Island women’s soccer Rams played their way to a draw versus the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a physical game that remained deadlocked 1-1 after two overtime periods Sunday at the URI Soccer Complex.
URI (4-6-4, 1-3-2) looked to take advantage against a struggling Minutemen squad (2-9-2, 0-5-1), but found itself matched fairly evenly from the opening whistle. The first twenty minutes offered little in terms of scoring opportunities, but that changed with the pace ramping up significantly toward the end of the first half.
Both teams squandered what appeared to be sure-fire chances for goals, in a series of highlight moments that showcased the competency of both goal keepers. URI hit a bullet of a shot off the top of the cross bar. URI’s Katie Nickles saved back to back-to-back goals, but perhaps the tensest moment for those in attendance came when UMass goalie Cassidy Babin, faced with URI presence deep inside the box, stopped a would-be goal an inch away from crossing the line for the score.
Nickles had six saves while Babin tallied eight in a game that Rams head coach Michael Needham could have been theirs for the taking if they stuck to their game plan on the offensive end.
“I think we were a little impatient,” Needham said. “I didn’t think we did a good enough job of doing what we like to do, which is attacking around people, getting the ball out wide, whipping crosses in. We played to many balls to their goalkeeper and we made it easy for their back four. We didn’t challenge them.”
The teams went into the break in a scoreless tie, but found their footing right out of the gate. UMass struck first, as Jackie Miller capitalized off of a corner kick, and after a bit of dribbling, put the ball past Nickles for the score in the match’s 52nd minute. The Rams, not to outdone, brought the game right back into a stalemate three minutes later when freshman Alisha Kahele-Manners scored her first career goal.
The competitiveness on the field was overshadowed by a slugfest, in which both players on both teams became tangled or collided, with a couple of injury stoppages along the way. They combined for a whopping 38 fouls, which made it difficult for either side to generate much offensive momentum.
“When we play soccer we’re as good anybody in this conference, when we want to get into a knock-down drag-down war, we’re not as good,” Needham said. “The best thing you could do is prepare to play soccer and not get involved in it. Both teams were flying around, both teams were physical, both teams wanted to win.”
The offense would continue to come as the URI had five shots on goal in the half, but the scoreboard would remain unchanged after 90 minutes, leading to another period of 10 minutes. Extra time was not enough, and would still be insufficient to determine a winner after another 10-minute overtime, leaving both teams likely bitter, as the slugfest concluded as a 1-1 tie. Both teams had 21 shots, while the Rams tallied nine on goal to UMass’s seven.
“Everybody wanted to win the game, definitely two teams working hard,” Needham said. “I think on the day, that’s absolutely a fair result. Do I think we’re a better team, yeah I think we’re a better team.”
URI will take the field tomorrow night on the road against Dayton at 7:30 p.m.