No matter what kind of note the Minutewomen (4-2-1) end on this week, it could prove to have a significant impact on next week’s start to the Atlantic 10 schedule.
“You want to go into the A-10 season on a positive note and you want to go in hopefully playing the best you could possibly be playing,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “We’ll use [Brown and Dartmouth] to help us get ready for those.”
Matz said that the win against Maine has propelled them forward because it was an exciting accomplishment that featured a lot of scoring chances for the Minutewomen.
Conversely, the fact that UMass only scored on one of those chances bothered Matz, who is stressing the importance of finishing around the net.
The Minutewomen’s performance and results have not been what they expected coming into the season. In an earlier loss to Bryant University, the Minutewomen fell, 4-1, despite taking 22 shots, again unable to take advantage of many of the opportunities they had. There have also been games when their chances were limited but they managed to come out on top, most notably the upset of then-ranked No. 20 Boston University, who lost despite outshooting the Minutewomen, 22-3.
Although the season got off to a strange start, the Minutewomen have won two games in a row and Matz is optimistic, looking for his team to build on the winning streak in a few different ways.
Matz said that continuing their success would depend on maintaining the solid defensive effort they’ve been putting forth. Also, the many scoring opportunities they’ve been getting cannot be wasted.
What will help further narrow their focus this week is the different set of challenges Brown and Dartmouth possess.
“Each team’s a little bit different,” said Matz. “Brown is very good off of set pieces and generating offense off of those set pieces. We’ll have to be aware of that.”
Another thing that might change for some of the players will be how they deal with some of the travel that will come with playing the conference schedule. The Minutewomen were scheduled several more home games than road games this year, and so far they have not had to travel long distances.
The conference schedule will bring the players to various places, including St. Louis, Charlotte, Washington D.C. and Richmond. Matz said that making sure the players get accustomed to the travel while maintaining schoolwork and other commitments is the only real difference in his approach to coaching this late in the season.
“I’m glad that our last non-A-10 game will be on the road because we need to prove we can win on the road,” said Matz.
Eric Mansfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.