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UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team fell to Central Connecticut State on Saturday by a score of 3-0 in their regular season home opener.

After posting a 2-0 record in August exhibition play with wins over Vermont and Albany, UMass entered Saturday’s game at Rudd Field hoping to start the 2017 season off on a similar note.

However, a pair of goals from freshman Jenna Covello and a five save shutout performance from Blue Devils’ goalkeeper Ashley Cavanaugh would not allow it.

“It obviously wasn’t the way we wanted to start our season,” coach Ed Matz said.

UMass, which only had 14 field players available for the match, “had more people in red shirts than were actually available to play,” Matz said.

Coupled with clearance issues from the NCAA and a broken nose to last year’s leading goal scorer, Gabriela Kenyon, “things just caught up with [the team] a little bit today,” said Matz.

On offense the Minutewomen forwards just couldn’t get it going the way that they would have hoped, only mustering five shots on net in contrast to the Blue Devil’s twelve.

Although production was slow, a bright spot for UMass came in returning junior Erin Doster who was able to get four shots off over the course of the game, two of which were on goal.

According to Matz, Doster was just recently moved to the midfield due to an injury in the Albany match and played well at a position she’s not usually comfortable at. “In fact, she was probably one of our best players out on the field,” he added.

Central Connecticut started the scoring in the 35th minute, when a goal off the foot of freshman forward Jenna Covello landed in the top right corner of the UMass net.

The Massachusetts defense, helped by 9 saves on 17 shots faced by senior goalkeeper Cassidy Babin, managed to stave off the Blue Devils attack into halftime.

But things took a turn for the worst in the 72nd minute when back-to-back goals from Central Connecticut forwards Danielle Pearse and Covello just 25 seconds apart put the Blue Devils up 3-0.

Matz hopes that the loss can be a learning experience for his squad going forward.

“I just think as we get healthier and healthier, this team can be pretty good,” Matz said.

The Minutewomen have five days before their next match. In the meantime, the team will look to use the lengthy schedule gap to improve on multiple facets of the game, but most importantly their overall health.

When asked about the status of the team, Matz stuck to his theme of positivity. “You’d rather be banged up early in the season than towards the end,” he said.

The Minutewomen will host Stony Brook at 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25 at Rudd Field.

Liam Flaherty can be reached at lpflaherty@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.

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