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UMass women’s soccer returns to Amherst, set to host URI Thursday

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team will look to continue its recent strong play when it hosts Rhode Island at Rudd Field on Thursday.

Coming off a four-point weekend, with a 3-0 win over St. Bonaventure and a 0-0 double-overtime draw with Virginia Commonwealth, the Minutewomen (5-5-2, 2-1-1 Atlantic-10) currently sit in a three-way tie for third place with Dayton and George Mason.

According to coach Ed Matz, UMass is looking forward to being back in Amherst for the conference matchup.

“The team is hungry and we’ve had a few good days of practice. Hopefully that will reflect in [Thursday’s] match. [The atmosphere’s] very upbeat,” Matz said.

The Minutewomen will need to continue their strong defensive play from last weekend’s matches, to boost themselves in the standings.

“We need to make sure that we continue to play the good defense that we’ve played the last two games. As a team, players really know their roles and where they’re supposed to be at certain instances,” Matz said. “Tactically, we need to be aware of every moment and where we’re supposed to be. If we can take care of that end, then hopefully we can create some good offensive chances and finish on those. It’s just a matter of paying attention to our team defense and then giving our offense an opportunity to win.”

With league-leading La Salle coming to town on Sunday, every point the Minutewomen can get is an important one down the stretch.

“We’ve created some good things and we’ve done a lot of good work in getting our seven points, so we just have to make sure we’re the hungrier team [Thursday] when we play,” Matz said.

The Rams (3-9-0, 0-4 A-10) have yet to capture their first conference win on the season and will certainly be playing with a lot of motivation to do so on Thursday. URI lost to the Explorers 2-0 at home on Sunday.

Matz emphasized how URI’s winless record isn’t something to read too deep into heading into Thursday’s matchup.

“Their record doesn’t reflect how good they are. They’re a good team,” Matz said. “In fact, with their record, I’m even more worried about them just because they’re going to [be] really really hungry to get their first A-10 win. They’re at a situation where tomorrow isn’t a make or break game for them, but I think it’s pretty important to them if they want to try to make a push and make it into the A-10s.”

One of the biggest reasons for UMass’ initial success in conference play has been Cassidy Babin’s play in net. The two shutouts she earned last weekend bumped her season total up to four.

Babin’s big saves that have helped to win important games aren’t always seen on the stat sheet, according to Matz.

“I’m proud of Babin, she made some very good saves over the weekend,” Matz said. “She made a great save in the St. Bonaventure game that I think is overlooked because, right off the opening kickoff, [the Bonnies] came down and created a good opportunity and [Babin] made that save. It wasn’t even seconds into the match and if she doesn’t make that save then I don’t know what the outcome of that game would have been.”

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

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

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