With the start of Atlantic 10 conference play, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team improved its wining streak to five games with its 2-0 victory over Rhode Island at Rudd Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Minutewomen (7-2-1, 1-0-0 A-10) improved their all-time record against the Rams (5-5-1, 0-1-0 A-10) to 16-8-0 in a rivalry that dates back to 1988. The match, which includes goals by senior forwards Deanna Colarossi and Julie Morrissey, as well as the fifth-consecutive shutout victory by junior goalkeeper Emily Cota, showcased UMass’ scoring prowess and their ability to control the ball in both the defensive and midfield zones.
“I thought it was one of our best games of the season,” said UMass coach Ed Matz. “I thought we were good on both sides of the ball, that we came out and minimized a lot of their chances, and I thought that we created good chances [for ourselves]. In general, I am pretty pleased with our performance today.”
The Minutewomen struck early against the Rams off Colarossi’s header to the back of the net in the 21st minute. The goal, which was Colarossi’s third of the season and her second in three games, was assisted by freshman forward Tori Sousa.
“It was a little tough for [Colarossi] at the start of the season [to score] because she’s got two new people up there with her,” said Matz. “She’s getting used to where they want the ball and they’re getting used to where she wants the ball. But, she’s a goal scorer and she’s feeling confident, and your first goal in your first A-10 match is important for your team, and it was a great shot.”
UMass would score again in the 37th minute to increase its lead by two, except this time the goal came off Morrissey’s kick. Morrissey’s goal, which was her fifth of the season, was a sliding shot from the right side that was assisted by sophomore defender Brittany Moore.
“[Morrissey] is just a natural goal scorer,” added Matz. “When she gets the ball, she’s thinking one thing, to take the person on, especially if she’s in a one-on-one situation. When she’s in a one-on-one, there aren’t many defenders in college soccer that can handle her. There aren’t a lot of kids that have her confidence.”
On offense this year, Morrissey and Colarossi are first and second on the UMass scoring sheet. Morrissey leads the team in goals (five) and points (10) in nine games started, while Colarossi has three goals, a team-best three assists and nine points in nine games started. No one else on the team has more than one goal, one assist or two points.
“I think we came out really strong in the first half, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Colarossi. “Once we were up 2-0, we added a lot of momentum to [the game].”
In the defensive end, Cota stood strong against a URI team that fought back with a few close scoring drives of its own. With the win, Cota improves her goals against average to 0.33, her save percentage to .933 and her record to 5-1-0. Cota also has 28 saves in over 543 minutes played.
As they work to improve upon their third-place position in the A-10 standings, Matz knows that the Minutewomen have to keep themselves leveled, especially down the stretch against their conference opponents.
“We are 0-0 coming into today, that’s what I told the kids,” said Matz. “Everybody thinks they can win the conference championship, but … does [this win] mean that we will? No. We’re taking it one game at a time, and now we’re three points closer to our goal.”
David Martin can be reached at email@example.com.