Consistency is key.
The Minutewomen are going to need strong, consistent play from all areas of the field in order to advance to the second round of the playoffs. UMass coach Ed Matz is fully aware of what the team has to do to succeed.
“We have to move the ball around strongly and efficiently,” Matz said. “We need to have better passing, stronger ball possession and we need to translate those aspects into offensive chances. We have to get our offense going in order to establish ourselves early on in the game.”
Matz’s 4-3-3 offensive approach has led to 28 goals over the course of the season, a definite improvement to the 15 goals scored last year. The offense is all too essential to having a strong start to the game.
“We need to keep the play out of our zone and relieve the pressure off of our defenders,” Matz said. “We need to be able to clear the ball well into the opposing zone and play on that. It doesn’t matter if we lose by one or two, so we need to make sure that we aggressive and can score that winning goal.”
Some of the notable players that will play into a successful offensive game are junior Deanna Colarossi and senior Therese Smith.
Colarossi and Smith have contributed significant numbers to the Maroon and White attacking game this season. Combined, the two have 16 goals, five assists and 37 points off of 89 shots. They have also played in 36 combined games and have started in 29 of them. With those kinds of numbers, it’s clear that they will be the players expected to lead a strong scoring threat throughout the match.
On the defensive end, freshman defender Brittany Moore and freshman goalkeeper Emersyn Pullan are going to be critical in stopping the ball from crossing the UMass goal line.
Moore has really stood out this season as a strong defensive threat, starting in all 18 of the games this season. Her play has been solid and has molded well with the team’s gamelans throughout the season. She also has two assists and 12 shots, with six of them being on goal, proving that she can also provide immediate offense in a quick transition up the field.
Pullan has been a strong backup in net to compliment starter Emily Cota throughout the season. Now, as Cota is unable to start due to her injury sustained on Sunday, Pullan will once again be asked to step up and be the last line of defense for the Minutewomen. Matz has no doubt that she’s been exposed to the game and can play up to expectations set before her. Pullan has 17 saves and a .708 save percentage to her credit in seven games played. She has a 2-3 record out of her five starts, with both of her wins being shutouts.
Matz knows that the Bonnies will bring their best against the Minutewomen, especially considering that they will have the advantage of playing on their home field.
“They’re going to be a tough team to play against in the playoffs,” Matz said. “They’re able to transition a 4-5-1 defensive game into a 4-3-3 offensive game very well and are great at passing the ball down the field. These are some of the aspects of their game plan that we have to focus on and prepare for.”
In all, Matz is positive on the play that UMass can bring to the game.
“We’re a very young team that’s still trying to work on everything, but we can put on the pressure, we can run, keep on the ball and utilize passing lanes,” Matz said. “We definitely have it in us to win this game and move on to the next round.”
David Martin can be reached at email@example.com.