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UMass women’s soccer nets 1-1 draw at URI Sunday

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

With razor-thin losses plaguing the Massachusetts women’s soccer team in its previous three overtime matches, the Minutewomen earned a crucial point on the road against Rhode Island Sunday, playing the Rams to a 1-1 draw. .

In two of its last three matches, UMass (2-9-2, 0-5-1 Atlantic 10)  fell in overtime to A-10 opponents George Mason and Davidson. In each match, the Minutewomen did not surrender the losing goal until the 100th minute or later of play.

“We have had six A-10 games and four of them have gone into overtime. In three of those we have lost with mere minutes left to play if not seconds,” UMass coach Ed Matz said in a phone interview Monday morning. “We haven’t always had the outcome we have wanted and the sudden-death losses are never good, so I think yesterday was a hard fought point but mentally and psychologically it was a point that we really needed to get.”

All the additional minutes that UMass has played in extra periods have equated to nearly a game and a half of play. Gameplay that has frequently lead to crushing defeats in the concluding moments of competition.

Matz thought team showed resilient character on Sunday.

“I was so happy for the team to get that point,” Matz said. “We wanted to get the win but I’m sure in the back of some of their minds, and they would never admit this, but I’m sure some of them thought you know, ‘here we go again.’”

“I know they were disappointed that they didn’t get three (points) and I admire that in them,” Matz added about the previous overtime losses. “They’re still fighting, they still have a lot of heart and we’re still doing everything that we can to get into the A-10 playoffs,” .

Just as the result was indicative of the uphill battle this season has been for the Minutewomen, for one athlete, yesterday’s result was even more significant.

Yesterday’s lone UMass goal was netted by redshirt junior Jackie Miller, the first goal of her collegiate career. After committing play with the Minutewomen back in high school, Miller tore her ACL prior to landing on campus and suffered a subsequent tear a year and a half later. As a result, now in her fourth year at UMass, the midfielder out of Woodstock, Georgia finally has gotten the opportunity for significant playing time.

“It is really gratifying for me as a coach and I’m happy for Jackie to finally see Jackie playing to the level I know she can play because nobody works harder than Jackie,” Matz said.

This positive sentiment that Sunday’s result provided both Miller and UMass is something it hopes to ride into competition the rest of the way. With just four regular season games remaining, it would likely take all wins to extend its season into the A-10 tournament.

“What I’m stressing to my team is that if we look at every single game the margin between winning and losing is so, so small, that we’re in every single game and we feel like we could have won every single game,” Matz said.

Up to this point in the season, those results have fallen short. However, with the grind the Minutewomen has endured, they are still confident they can pull it off.

“The positive aspect of it is hey, we feel like we can beat anybody … I think as a whole the kids are upbeat and positive,” Matz said. “We still believe that we can get into the A-10s, we still believe there is chances and points out there.”

UMass will look to capitalize on that opportunity beginning with the first of three straight home matches when it welcomes Duquesne to Amherst this Thursday at 4 p.m.

Christopher Marino can be reached at cmarino@umass.edu

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