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The 2017-18 women’s soccer team differs from others Matz has coached at UMass

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

If the regular season ended today, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team would be ranked seventh going into the Atlantic 10 tournament with a 7-7-2 overall record and 4-3-1 record in conference games.

The Minutewomen control their own destiny coming into the final two games of the regular season, starting Thursday’s matchup against Saint Louis (14-1-2, 6-1-1 A-10).

A spot in the tournament has been the goal all season for UMass, but this team has distinguished itself from other teams coach Ed Matz has led in Amherst. They have amassed more points (13) and more road wins (2) since the 2013-14 season.

“This team has proved that it can do things that teams in the past were not able to do, especially winning on the road, especially winning the tough games,” Matz said. Especially with winning a game that maybe you’re perceived as the underdog like we were on Sunday.”

On Thursday night, the Minutewomen face off against their toughest opponent, the Billikens, on the road at 8 p.m.

The second half of the season has essentially been a mirror opposite of the first half, where the Minutewomen played two games on the road throughout the first two months of the season.

However, last week (Oct. 12 to Oct. 19), they had two road games against George Mason, Duquesne.

“Part of being on the road is great, being in the hotel together, being together is great,” Matz said. “It’s the long times in the airport and we seem to have a bunch of short flights, but a bunch of long layovers.”

“It’s getting to the airport at 3 p.m. and we don’t land in Hartford until around 11 at night. It is long days like that, but the kids are doing homework and that’s kind of what our day is going to be like on Friday,” he said.

Matz and his staff did not nominate any captains coming into the 2017-18 season and it has remained that way throughout the season. He says this is in large part due to the transparency of the team and the ability to be honest.

“I asked them to describe some of the things they love about this team,” Matz said. “They said transparency, they can say anything to anybody on the team and they know that it’s only to motivate them.”

As the season winds down, the games are only getting tougher.

“It certainly doesn’t get any easier against Saint Louis, they’re one of the best teams in our conference,” Matz said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and that just poses a different type of challenge for us and we have to be prepared for it.

“We have to do our best on Thursday and if not, I know this team will come back and take care of their job on Sunday or hopefully we take care of it two days in a row.”

According to Matz, he asked the team before Tuesday’s practice if they wanted to know about the different scenarios that could play out and help them to make the tournament.

They responded with a resounding no; they simply wanted to focus on the game at hand in Saint Louis.

Matz summed it up.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios that point to our advantage, but again we’d rather take care of things ourselves.”

Zander Manning can be reached at alexanderman@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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