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Perussault and the Minutewomen are ready for the start of A-10 play

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team will host Davidson at Rudd Field on Thursday, kicking off the Atlantic 10 portion of its regular season schedule.

Coming off a tremendous 1-0 win over Yale on Sunday to close out the non-conference slate, the University of Massachusetts will look to get things started on the right foot Sept. 21, when it goes up against the Wildcats (2-7) at home.

Unlike non-conference play, the remainder of the schedule’s matchups will be played against A-10 opponents. These games ultimately determine the fate of the Minutemen (3-4-1) come playoff time.

For forward Natalie Perussault, kickoff against Davidson will also signify the beginning of the end of her UMass career.

Through three full seasons with the team, the senior has logged a total of 2,178 minutes on the field, playing in 41 matches.

Although the overall numbers may not always reflect it, Perussault has slowly become one of the most influential forwards on the UMass attack.

According to coach Ed Matz, the Virginia native moves the ball in ways that others generally don’t, allowing her to open up the field, along with her teammates, to see prime scoring opportunities on the attack.

“What [Perussault] does doesn’t show up on the stat sheet with goals and assists,” Matz said after Sunday’s win over Yale. “But she does a lot of little things and causes so many problems being in the right place at the right time.”

Perussault’s aggressiveness with the ball and the experience that she has garnered over her four years has also allowed her to act as a mentor to the younger players on the roster.

“I’d say I have a lot of leadership experience right now, being in my senior year, even though we kind of consider all of us leaders on the field.”

In particular, Perussault sees one of her biggest roles on or off the field as helping the less experienced forwards grow on the attack, especially those who have seen increased success and more responsibilities lately.

“They’re doing really good and playing a lot of the roles on the field,” she said. “I just give them advice and confidence when they’re out there. If they make a mistake you have to pick them up.”

One of those freshmen who have been making an impact, most notably in recent weeks, has been Kelly Marra.

In the previous three matches, Marra has willed the Minutewomen to two wins, scoring both game-winning goals over Holy Cross and Yale, in separate 1-0 victories.

The freshman is excelling in her role on the UMass attack and will be looked upon as a reliable scoring option in conference play going forward.

At the start of her final conference schedule, Perussault has some mixed emotions about nearing the end.

“I’m really excited to get into A-10s because it’s the best time of the whole entire year and everyone’s really excited,” she said. “But, I’m also really sad because it’s my last A-10s.”

Although the actual end of her season and career with the Minutewomen is over a month away, Perussault couldn’t help but reflect on her time at UMass with A-10s looming and what the remainder of the season is going to mean to her.

“You just have a lot of pride when you play with the UMass jersey on the field,” Perussault explained. “You’re playing for your teammates and for your coaches. Especially being a senior, I want to do as much as I can on the field and off the field. I want to end my senior year on a good note.”

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Thursday at Rudd Field.

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

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