UMass tops UVM in Manchester Soccer Series

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MANCHESTER — For the third consecutive year, the University of Vermont and University of Massachusetts - Amherst women's soccer teams met up for a preseason matchup at Applejack Stadium in Manchester.

Just as the previous two matchups finished, it was UMass that came out on the winning side, as the Minutewomen went on to win 3-1 in the exhibition as part of the 3rd Annual Manchester Soccer Series.

UMass junior midfielder Sini Laaksonen was the star of the day, as she scored all three of the Minutewomen's goals in the game. Her best shot of the day came in the second of three periods when she saw the Catamount goalkeeper creeping farther from the goal and she floated a shot from well outside the box over her head and perfectly into the net.

The Masku, Finland native was all over the field all game long providing pressure and making her presence felt.

"Sini played at a high level all summer with her home club and put in another level of work this summer," said UMass coach Jason Dowiak. "She's a little farther ahead then others in her physical readiness. It's not typical preseason for her. It's more a progression of a season she was already in."

The game was very back and forth early on and it was UVM who struck first on the scoreboard. Senior midfielder Brooke Jenkins got her foot on a ball in the box and pushed it past the Minutewomen keeper to put her team ahead.

That goal seemed to work as a wake up call for the UMass side, as they started to take more possession control after the tally.

"It was just them still getting used to playing with each other and getting used to the level," Dowiak said. "(Vermont) was on top of us really quick and credit to them, they were tough to figure out early on. Once we settled down, the girls got a little more confidence under their belt."

Catamounts head coach Kristi Huizenga was happy with her team's effort and thought it came down to a couple of lost possessions that allowed UMass to take advantage.

"They did a pretty good job for the most part," Huizenga said. "We coughed the ball up a couple times in front of our own net, which gave them those chances. It was good on them to capitalize, but we gave those to them."

With both teams deep into their preseasons and with the regular season not far away, Thursday's game was a good tune-up to work out the kinks and continue to build chemistry.

"We have 11 freshman out of 22 players, so a lot of new faces out and we're working on trying to get combinations," Huizenga said. "This was our last scrimmage before our season starts. It was nice to get every one out there."

The Manchester Soccer Series has become a staple event for the Town of Manchester and one they continue to be proud of. With the field in pristine condition and the atmosphere competitive, Thursday continued to build upon that feeling.

"It's a beautiful event. John O'Keefe and the town do an excellent job putting it on," Huizenga said. "The field is absolutely gorgeous and the setting is nice. It's a nice mutual meeting point for us and UMass. It's especially nice for us to get down to the southern part of the state."

The Manchester Soccer Series continues on August 26 at Applejack with a doubleheader of Southern Vermont College and Castleton in women's soccer action and Castleton and MCLA in men's soccer.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and follwoed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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