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UMass women’s soccer team’s offense comes alive against Rhode Island

Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team won 4-1 against Rhode Island in an Atlantic 10 match-up Thursday afternoon.

UMass’ offense had a strong showing, scoring the team’s highest number of goals in a game this season. Forwards Gabriela Kenyon and  Marra Kelly recorded goals in the first half while defender Jenna Thomas and forward Natalie Perussault each netted one in the second.

A redshirt sophomore, Thomas scored her first goal of the 2017 season 56 minutes and five seconds into the match to make the score 3-0 UMass (6-5-2, 3-1-1 A-10).

“Finally,” Thomas said of her goal. “It felt really nice. I almost had a second goal there. But it was nice to just contribute on getting the third goal. It was a lot like shutting the door on them, so it really helped us.

“It’s been in the back of my head this whole season,” Thomas said about notching her first points on the season.

UMass’ first two goals came 46 seconds apart from each other with the first coming 27 minutes and 15 seconds into the first half from Kenyon. Thomas earned her first point of the 2017 campaign on Kenyon’s goal.

“I think Jenna Thomas had another excellent game,” coach Ed Matz said. “I think she’s a big anchor at center defense because she controls everything.”

Thomas played a full 90 minutes along with three other Minutewomen.

Two minutes and 50 seconds after Thomas’ goal, URI (3-10, 0-5 A-10) forward Emily Wakeford headed the ball past Minutewomen goalkeeper Cassidy Babin, getting the Rams on the board in the second half.

“Our defense ignites the rest of our offense,” Matz commented.

A strong defense backed by Babin helped spur the UMass offense. Babin’s one goal against in this game lowered her overall goals against average to 1.26, placing her ninth in the A-10 conference for goals against average.

The Minutewomen had a total of 22 shots with midfielder Sini Laaksonen leading the team with five.

UMass was able to hold URI at bay despite some sustained pressure from the Rams in the second period. URI was limited to three shots in the first half and eight shots overall.

“As the game got to be 3-0, I think we let up a little bit,” said Matz regarding the quick URI goal after the Minutewomen scored their third of the game.

After failing to score any goals in their last game against Virginia Commonwealth and being scheduled to play first place La Salle on Sunday, UMass’ four-goal game came at an opportune time. The team hopes to carry this momentum into future games as the team nears the playoffs.

“La Salle’s a really good team,” Thomas said. “So defensively we’re going to have to be in tune and take any chances we get.”

UMass plays La Salle (10-3-1, 5-0 A-10) at Rudd Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the team’s second-to-last home game of the season.

Liz Weeks can be reached at eweeks@umass.edu or followed on Twitter @lizweeks20.

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