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February 10, 2016

Defense secures 3 points against No. 20 Terriers

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

On Sunday afternoon at Rudd Field, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team’s game against No. 20 Boston University wasn’t exactly an offensive showcase by the Minutewomen. After all, they had three shots to combat the Terrier’s 22.

Instead, UMass relied on its defense to assist them in securing a big win in this already budding season.

The Minutewomen have built a strong defense from all areas of the pitch, which allowed them to build a solid 3-2-1 record that includes the victory against the Terriers. The win is the team’s first against a ranked opponent since it defeated No. 15 Connecticut in 2006.

UMass has scored two goals twice this season, which has forced them into playing a more protective role in the final third of the pitch. Against BU on Sunday, all the players on the pitch utilized their defensive efforts to hold off a side that was undefeated prior to this weekend.

“Our team defense as a group is very good,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “Our defense is good, but when everybody plays defense the whole game, we are a very strong team.”

This season, opposing teams have fired 86 shots (40 shots on goal) against the Maroon and White, with eight of the shots converting to goals.

With the exception of the club’s 4-1 loss to Bryant, UMass has kept opponents from scoring more than two goals in a game this season, and has even earned a pair of shutouts.

Still, teams have been able to bypass the rock-hard defense and attack the goal. The final savior for the defense has been junior goalkeeper Stephanie Gordon.

From the start of the season, Gordon has already notched a couple of high points for her collegiate career. With a 2-1-1 record, she has an average of 1.42 goals against and a.739 save percentage.

Junior goalkeeper Emily Cota, who started her first two games of the year this weekend in Gordon’s absence, is 1-1 with a 1.00 GAA and a .875 save percentage, and has proven herself more than capable of filling in whenever needed. Cota started in 13 games last season before surrendering the spot to Gordon.

As the season moves closer towards conference play, Matz is fully aware that, though his team is capable of defending itself against any opponent on the schedule, it must also continue to learn and grow every step of the way.

“We try to learn something from every single one of our games,” said Matz. “We learned that if we play well as a team and work hard on defense, we can play against anybody that steps on the field.”

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

 

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