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September 21, 2016

Albany edges out UMass

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team saw a tough end to a very close game against Albany on Monday afternoon in its first road match of the season.

Even though the score read 1-0 in favor of the Great Danes, the Minutewomen dominated on the field both offensively and defensively.

“The girls played with a lot of energy on Monday,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “The offense stepped up and was ready for the challenge. Most of the game was played in the Albany zone and they kept the pressure on consistently.”

The offensive prowess shown by the Minutewomen can be attested to the strategy Matz is implementing with the team. The developments, to him, are extremely promising.

“The progress we have made in understanding the offense is much further along then I thought it would be at this stage in the season,” Matz said. “We were creating a lot of chances and keeping the ball in their end throughout the game.”

Though the Great Danes were able to capitalize on their first scoring chance of the game in the 23rd minute, it was the only real chance they could muster against the Minutewomen. UMass dominated in the shots category, putting up 17 compared to Albany’s nine. The Minutewomen also finished the day with seven corner kicks opposed to the Great Danes’ three.

The biggest challenge for the Maroon and White proved to be their lack of a goal scorer.

“This team doesn’t have a natural goal scorer right now,” Matz said. “We have to have girls capitalize on key situations, especially in close games like this. They have to be able to take advantage of the situation.”

Though the offensive production was at a minimum against Albany, the defense proved that it could stand strong in its own end of the field.

During the second half, the Great Danes were able to put up a strong effort against the Minutewomen. Though Albany managed to keep the play going on the UMass net, the girls proved that defense was still a strong part of their game plan, as was highlighted by goalkeeper Emily Cota.

“Emily was great in net,” Matz said. “The only goal they scored was on a great shot that she really didn’t have much of a chance on. Throughout the rest of the game, she played great.”

Though the lack of a goal scorer, along with in a few unlucky bounces, proved fatal for UMass, the weakest link in the chain in Matz’s eyes was the level of inexperience on the roster.

“Normally during a game we have five to six freshmen on the field,” Matz said. “Inexperience is the biggest thing we have to work with, and that is something that takes time. In a couple seasons I think the girls will look back on games like this and say, ‘Man, I cannot believe we did not win back there.’”

These are the types of games that hold the key to the future successes of the Minutewomen’s season. Last year, the team was unable to come on top consistently in games in which the score was tied or separated by only one goal. Matz knows that these games will be crucial in the team’s quest to sit atop the upper six in the conference.

“These are the games that we have to win,” Matz said. “In a way, I am glad this game will teach the girls that. They have to learn that these are the games that can make the difference between a winning season and a losing season, and most importantly, a chance at the playoffs.”

The Minutewomen will next play this Friday as they host New Hampshire at Rudd Field.

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu

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