Cota back to being starter in goal for Minutewomen

By Michael Counos

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Sophomore Emily Cota has retaken her position as the starting goaltender for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team, recording two shutouts this past weekend at Rudd Field.

UMass coach Ed Matz has enjoyed the luxury of being able to choose between two reliable goaltenders between the pipes. Cota and freshman Emersyn Pullan have both seen their share of playing time and success this season. UMass is currently 7-9 overall with a 4-3 record in Atlantic 10 play. Six of those wins have come via shutout, with Cota recording four and Pullan recording two, respectively. 

Cota began the season as the starter and played the first nine games of the season before going down with a concussion on Sept. 26 in a 3-2 loss to Harvard. Pullan made her collegiate debut in the 49th minute, shutting out the Crimson and turning away three shots and then started the next five games for the Minutewomen.

Pullan has earned her spot as a freshman with five starts and a 2-3 record, while allowing just six goals in nearly 430 minutes of play. She helped end the Minutewomen’s five-game losing streak earlier this season against Saint Louis on Oct. 3, in which she had two saves for her first collegiate victory. The winning ways continued with her second consecutive shutout against Xavier on Oct. 8 when UMass won 3-0 while Pullan turned away one shot. She is currently sporting a .727 save percentage and a 1.26 goals against average.

Before going down to injury, Cota was 3-5 in net with two shutouts coming against Vermont on Sept. 3 and Fairfield on Sept. 12. UMass picked up its first win of the season, 4-0, against the Catamounts with a spectacular eight save performance by Cota. Against Fairfield, Cota continued her strong play, turning away seven shots on goal to help UMass to a 4-0 victory.

Cota has 11 starts in 13 games this year and has picked up her third and fourth shutouts of 2010 against Temple and Saint Joseph’s. She has 51 saves on the season with a .708 save percentage and is currently 5-6 with 21 goals allowed and a 1.83 goals against average.

“Both have their own individual traits,” Matz said. “Emily is a good communicator, good with her feet and scooping up low balls while Emersyn is a little more athletic and better at stopping the high shots.”

Cota was in Pullan’s shoes last season, as she played the bulk of the season in net as a freshman. In 2009, she played in 17 games while starting seven. She ended the season 4-7-2 with one shutout, while facing a lot of pressure. With 21 goals allowed already this fall, she is just two goals away from tying her goals against total of 23 in 2009.

The duo has shared time in losses against Dayton and Rhode Island. The conference-leading Flyers beat up on UMass, 5-0, with Pullan starting the game and playing the first half, recording four saves while allowing three goals. Cota struggled as well, allowing two second half goals. Against the Rams, Pullan played the majority of the game, recording three saves while allowing one goal before being relieved by Cota in the 74th minute. Cota started both games over the weekend to help UMass to two much-needed victories on seven combined saves.

Michael Counos can be reached at [email protected]