The Massachusetts women’s soccer team begins Atlantic 10 play this weekend, opening up at home with Charlotte on Friday and St. Bonaventure on Sunday at Rudd Field.
Despite their recent struggles, UMass coach Ed Matz and company look to get back on track with a pair of conference victories.
The 49ers will be a tough test for UMass, who currently sit at 3-6-0 overall while boasting a 2-2-0 record at home.
Charlotte is 7-3-0 with and sits in second in the A-10 overall standings with 21 points. St. Bonaventure is not far behind with a 6-4-0 record and currently fifth in the A-10 overall.
The Minutewomen did not fare well against the two schools in last season, getting shut out 4-0 by both teams and will be tested defensively against both programs.
Charlotte is led offensively by Macky Wingo and Whitney Weinraub. Each has eight points on three goals and two assists in 2010. While the Minutewomen have had no trouble scoring this season, they face a talented goaltender between the pipes for the 49ers in Alex Kubrick. Kubrick sports a .839 save percentage to go along with 26 saves and three shutouts so far this season.
The Bonnies are coming off a loss to unbeaten, non-conference opponent Siena, but their offense brings a strong trio to the table with Anna Cunningham at the helm. Cunningham has been the main goal producer with five on the season, while Courtney Bosse and Tori Burchett each have three. The contest should be physical, as they have committed ninety penalties this season in ten games.
“We just need to defend better collectively as a team,” Matz said. “You can not win games if you’re letting up three goals a game.”
Positive outlooks for the Minutewomen include the return of Co-captain Sydney Stoll, who has been plagued by injury all season and will play limited minutes against Charlotte. While the Bonnies are undefeated at home they have a record of 1-4-0 on the road, which UMass will look to capitalize on at Rudd Field.
The Minutewomen lost their fourth-consecutive game the last time out, falling to Harvard by a count of 3-2. While the defense did manage to shut out the Crimson in the second half, they had already allowed three goals in the first stanza which ultimately cost them the game.
UMass will look to continue to feed the ball to senior Therese Smith. Smith has announced her presence as the offensive workhorse of the Minutewomen with four goals in the last three games, including one that cut the deficit in half against the Crimson with a tally in the 17th minute and was assisted by senior Ashley Hamel. Smith leads the UMass roster with four goals and 10 points scored.
Kayla Austin connected for her second goal of the fall in the 21st minute against Harvard and was assisted by Lauren Skesavage.
Despite the valiant efforts of the Minutewomen to battle back from being down early, the momentum was shattered with the Crimson’s third goal of the contest off the foot of Melanie Baskind in the 31st minute, her fifth of the season. Neither team would produce another score for the rest of the match.
Friday’s game against the 49ers begins at 4:00 pm, while Sunday’s match will kick off at 1:00 pm.
Michael Counos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.