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UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Ward adjusting to playing in the United States

Courtesy UMass Media Relations

In England, soccer is not just a sport; it is a passion, a way of life, a facet in English society that sits on a higher plateau than any other sport. Surprisingly, however, most gifted female soccer players come to the United States to make a name for themselves in the game they love.

Take freshman defender Annie Ward, for example.

In her native England, Ward played club soccer for Sheffield United in a stunning career that saw her earn the title of team captain, the manager’s Player of the Year award and a league cup title. After her final year for Sheffield, Ward was left to wonder whether or not soccer was going to play as dominant a role as it had in years past.

“Women’s soccer is almost non-existent back home,” Ward said.  “Women’s sports are not nearly as developed or as prominent in England as they are here in America. If I stayed home, I wouldn’t be able to go nearly as far in my sport and I feel that while you are young, you want to be as good as you can be. I feel like I can be at my best playing here.”

With that, Annie made up her mind and decided she was going to study and play for Massachusetts. From the minute she earned a spot on the roster, she realized that there was still much to learn about her favorite sport.

“Here, it’s a much different way of playing the game,” Ward said. “Soccer’s much more tactical, it’s a lot quicker, there’s more offense and there’s more passing. The players are very strong, very conditioned and the competition is much tougher. The transition was difficult given the ball in the air style of play that I grew up with.”

Though the transition may have been a struggle at first, Ward is fitting in nicely with a young and eager UMass team.

“We’re coming together well,” Ward said. “We’re a younger team that brings a lot of energy to win and the coaches are very good as well.  Even though we just had our bad week [losses to Michigan and Oakland], we’ll rebound strongly and look to hold our own in the Atlantic 10.

“We have great capabilities, we just need to come together completely,” Ward added. “I know that if we go into every single game and compete to those capabilities, we’ll finish the season strong.”

As she looked back on her experiences of the season so far, Ward knew instantly which ones would always stay with her.

“Starting against Washington was the best experience for me so far,” Ward said. “Even though we lost the game 3-1, just stepping on the field and realizing that I was here to play on a level that I never thought I’d play at before really showed me what I’m capable of.”

When asked about whether or not she would bring what she learns here back home with her, Ward could not help but smile.

“I’m a more knowledgeable player in playing here,” she said. “I know that, if I went back to my old team, I could bring so much for them. It’s hard to change the perception of women’s soccer in England, but I’d love to try.”

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

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