Minutewomen sweep away UNH, BU
The Massachusetts women’s soccer team toppled New Hampshire, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon at Rudd Field.
Goals from Moa Mattsson and Hlin Gunnlaugsdottir separated UMass (4-4) from the visiting Wildcats (1-6-1) on the scoreboard, but it was Emily Cota’s goaltending effort that allowed the Minutewomen to keep a clean sheet.
It was Cota’s second win in as many games, having not played in a game until she got the start against Boston University on Friday night.
The two shutouts “feel really good,” Cota said. “It’s a big confidence boost, and we’re going into (Atlantic 10) play, so it will help us keep that momentum up.”
UMass coach Ed Matz was pleased with the entire defense’s performance in the shutout.
“Our defense was stellar,” Matz said. “Our defense gives us a chance to win every single game that we’ve been in so far this year. We are willing to give up those long shots, which will end up as routine saves. That’s just kind of what we do.”
The game was scoreless until the 77th minute when Mattsson broke the deadlock. Sophomore Tori Sousa laid a through ball off for Gunnlaugsdottir, who cut inside and returned the ball into Sousa’s feet. Sousa then found Mattsson six yards away from net, who finished easily and upped her scoring tally to four on the season.
Matz knew there was no chance Mattsson was going to miss from that close.
“You drop a ball in for Moa and she is never going to miss from there,” Matz said.
The Minutewomen were immediately attacking again following the goal. Just a few minutes later, Mattsson found herself going forward again, and with space in front, Gunnlaugsdottir made a run that left her all alone. With just the keeper to beat, she calmly slipped the team’s second goal into the far corner of the net.
Minutewomen upset BU
Coming off of three straight shutout losses, Matz elected to shuffle the lineups in the hopes of finding a spark that would propel his team out of the slide.
There were three changes made from the lineup that fell, 2-0, to Virginia Tech on Sept. 9, which ultimately paid off as UMass came away victorious over the Terriers, 1-0, in Boston.
Emily Benjamin and Jackie Bruno replaced Tori Sousa and Jen Coppola in the forward positions and Cota made her first appearance of the season in net, replacing Stephanie Gordon.
Matz said the purpose of the lineup change was an attempt to energize the team.
“There is so much parity between (Cota and Gordon) and they work very hard,” Matz said. “It was just a matter of us being 2-4, so we made a couple of changes, a goalie and a couple of field players, to jumpstart the team (and) get a little energy.”
The Minutewomen secured an earlier lead through a lack of communication in the Terrier (3-5-1) defense. At the seven-minute mark, a lobbed ball landed between the defensive line and goalkeeper Andrea Green. Bruno had found her way behind defense and pounced on the loose ball to net her first collegiate goal and what would prove to be the game-winning tally.
With 83 minutes still to be played, the UMass defense stood firm, denying BU an equalizer at every opportunity.
Cota was equally up to the task, turning away seven shots including a leaping save in the 70th minute that was tipped just over the crossbar to preserve the lead.
Matz thought his team dealt well with its challenging early season schedule and was glad to come away with the win.
“We’ve had this early schedule that was very challenging for us,” Matz said. “We knew Friday night was going to be a big challenge against BU at BU. We knew this was going to be a tough weekend. But I thought the girls did very well Friday night in a tough in a tough environment.”
It’s back on the road again for the Minutewomen who travel to Providence, R.I., to face Brown before four straight matches at home that include the opening of A-10 play.
The kick-off against the Bears is at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.