UMass women’s soccer drops home opener
With a goal by junior co-captain Jackie Bruno in the last second of regulation to tie the match at 1-1, it looked as though the Massachusetts women’s soccer team was heading into extra time with all the momentum it needed to take a victory in its home opener.
Unfortunately for the Minutewomen, Catherine Zimmerman and Providence had other plans. Zimmerman scored in the 97th minute to lead the Friars to the 2-1 win.
Zimmerman also assisted on the first goal of the game to Alison Mills in the 33rd minute. The junior led the team with five shots on goal.
The Minutewomen (1-2-1) were not surprised by Zimmerman’s effectiveness, as they were fully aware that she would be a factor going into the game.
“If anybody is going to score for Providence, since they have difficulty scoring goals, Zimmerman is their one person who can score goals,” UMass coach Ed Matz said.
“You need to be aware of her,” added Matz. “The goal she scored was just a goal scorer’s goal where she wanted it more than the two people who happened to be covering her.”
UMass looked like it responded to the deficit in the first half with a promising cross from Laura Johns to Stacie Murray that went in, but it was immediately called back for offsides.
Both teams finished with 12 shots. Matz said the key is capitalizing on opportunities, something his team was unable to do against the Friars (1-1-2).
“I don’t think we created great opportunities for ourselves today,” Matz said. “We created opportunities but not great ones. It’s movement off the ball that needs to get better. We need to keep working hard to create those chances.”
The lack of chances came from the Minutewomen’s inability to win headers and 50/50 balls, which put a lot of pressure on their defense, especially in the first half.
“In the first half, that’s pretty much where we lost the game because we had no momentum,” Bruno said. “Every time we had a clearance it was Providence ball and that put a lot of pressure on our defense and our backs to have to make quick decisions. If we did a better job with those 50/50 balls, it would have given us more momentum and more opportunities.”
The Minutewomen capitalized on their last opportunity of the game, as Bruno scored on a pass from Madison Smith with one second remaining in regulation.
“It was just do-or-die at that point,” Bruno said. “I just ripped it and thank God it went in.”
Although Bruno was not on the field during the Friars’ game-winning goal due to a calf injury, she noticed a common problem.
“It was the same goal we keep on giving up,” she said. “One center back got beat, defenders got caught watching, losing your mark, bad body positioning, maybe a loss of focus.”
UMass is looking for its first win of the season at Rudd Field and is hoping to correct the mental mistakes in time for their next matchup.
“We all hate losing on Rudd,” Bruno said. “Those little zone-outs can’t happen and as long as we have a solid week of practice they won’t.”
The Minutewomen return home Friday at 4 p.m. to take on Cornell.
Frank Corona can be reached at email@example.com.