NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It wasn’t difficult to figure out Rudy Meredith’s message to his team prior to Sunday’s game against UMass. The Bulldogs had allowed nine goals in their first two games.
“We talked about defense yesterday at practice and again pregame,” Meredith said. “I told them it needed to be a total team effort. It wasn’t just the defenders. It wasn’t just the goalkeeper. It was everybody.”
Apparently, it was well received. The Bulldogs turned in a much better defensive effort and earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Minutewomen on a gorgeous afternoon at Reese Stadium.
Meredith elected to split the goalkeeping duties, starting freshman Maritza Grillo, who played the first half and stopped three shots. Senior Rachel Ames took over for the final 45 minutes and made seven saves.
Freshman Michelle Alozie scored the only goal of the game at 7:02.
UMass (0-3-2) made a big push in the second half but couldn’t get the equalizer. The Minutewomen were whistled for two offsides that nullified goals and also hit a cross bar late in the second half.
“We were a little unfortunate on Friday [a 5-4 loss to Hofstra] and today we were a little bit fortunate,” Meredith said. “We were gritty and were rewarded for our hard work.”
The game-winning goal came when Sofia Griff sent a long ball forward. Alozie was able to outrace a UMass defender to it and flick a shot just inside the far post.
“That was a very athletic play,” Meredith said.
Alozie nearly scored again midway through the second half, getting her head on a low cross. UMass goalkeeper Cassidy Babin, though, dove to her left to deflect it away.
Ames was outstanding in goal in the second half for the Bulldogs. Her best stop came in the final minute when he snared a hard shot from Marissa Milazzo from seven yards out. From there, the Bulldogs were able to keep possession and run out the clock.
Just two minutes earlier, UMass’s Gabriela Kenyon hit the cross bar.
The victory earned the Bulldogs a split of their two games at the Yale Classic.
In the first game on Sunday, Hofstra blanked Central Connecticut 4-0.
A busy stretch for the Bulldogs continues on Tuesday night when they host Sacred Heart at 7 p.m.
“This was a step in the right direction,” Meredith said of Sunday’s win. “We have to recover quickly and get ready for a good Sacred Heart team on Tuesday.”