Lauren Bonavita, of Hanson, put forth seven goals in her freshman campaign, which was tied for the team high.
When Jason Dowiak was announced head coach of UMass Amherst’s women’s soccer team last December, Lauren Bonavita was the first person he called.
Since Dowiak had not recruited the incoming class, he needed to find out more about the team’s incoming freshmen. Dowiak had a solid idea of just what Bonavita, coming off a 43-goal season and 113-goal soccer career at Whitman-Hanson Regional High, would bring to the team – a dynamic scoring presence. Further game footage sent over by Bonavita affirmed his thinking.
“I got to see three or four mostly high school games,” Dowiak said. “What was unique about Lauren was her knack for being able to create really good, quality scoring chances. I think in one of the high school games she sent me she scored four goals.”
During the spring, Bonavita, who hails from Hanson, impressed him, while playing for her club team FC Boston.
“I think out of four or five spring games that we watched her play, only one of those games did we walk away saying ‘Ah, we kind of expect more,'” Dowiak said. “All of the other games she was the best player on the field and it wasn’t even close, and she was scoring a boat load of goals. I think in a matter of seven or eight club games last year she had 13 goals and 13 assists.
“And we were tracking, we started watching and we were like, ‘OK, so she had two or three that game. She had three in this one and then she only had one goal in this game but she had three assists. Obviously we started getting really excited of what she’s capable of.” When the fall arrived, that goal scoring was on full display for Dowiak’s Minutewomen and played a key role in their turnaround.
Bonavita tied for a team-high seven goals and added five assists as UMass went 11-6-1. It marked a four-win improvement on 2017 and the team’s first season above 10 wins since 2011.
In the Minutewomen’s opener against Maine, Bonavita set the tone of the fall in the 36th minute with the first goal of the season. “It was very, very exciting,” she said. In the first four Atlantic 10 games, Bonavita notched a goal and two assists including the winning pass in a 1-0 victory over St. Bonaventure on Sept. 27. Thanks to this, UMass began conference play 4-0 for the first time in over 10 years.
“It’s not like all scoring,” said Bonavita, who was selected to the A-10’s All-Rookie Team. “It’s about helping the team and making the right decisions and helping the team and passing it to an open player. I was just able to help the team push toward the win whether it was offensively ordefensively.”
Bonavita said the most important thing she learned at W-H that translates into the college level is conditioning.
“Our fitness with coach [Dave] Floeck would be the two-mile run in the summer and just making sure you’re working throughout the sum mer to get your fitness up,” she said.
Bonavita also noted competing in a rigorous Patriot League throughout high school helped her to compete at the next level.
“Definitely playing against those high-competitive teams kind of set me up, I mean college is completely different, but setting me up for what I’m going to be looking at in college,” Bonavita said. “But Duxbury, Silver Lake and Hingham all have like club players who are playing in college, so it was definitely a high-competitive game and then coming to UMass it was similar and everyone was working together.”
Thanks to her strong performance this fall, Dowiak said he is excited to watch Bonavita’s growth over the next three seasons.
“I think that we’ve got an amazing player on our hands that we can really develop into someone that can come out and be productive against just about anybody,” Dowiak said.