Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutewomen edged out by URI

By David Martin

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team fell just short to Rhode Island, 1-0, in a heavily physical and officiated match on Sunday afternoon.

The Minutewomen (5-9-0, 2-3-0 Atlantic 10) couldn’t crack a defensively solid Rams team in the midst of strong physical contact and controversial officiating. UMass mustered just four shots, which ties its lowest shot total of the season, while URI had nine.

 The Rams (2-11-1, 2-3-0 A-10) scored the game’s lone goal off of a shot by Stephanie Santos in the first 48 seconds of the second half. UMass goalkeeper Emersyn Pullan got a hand on the shot but couldn’t knock it down completely. Courtney David picked up the assist on the play.

Though the Rams certainly put up a well-played game in hopes of keeping their postseason chances alive, the biggest challenge of the day seemed to come from the referees.

“I don’t think that the game was officiated well at all,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “When the URI player clearly elbowed Therese Smith in the head, it somehow escaped the eyes of all three of the officials. I mean, we had to pull her out of the game so she could be attended to, and the URI player even had to go over to her bench to get her elbow taped up as a result of the hit. It was a blatant call that wasn’t made.”

In defense of his player, Matz argued the call and the team received a yellow card as a result. The team collectively earned five yellow cards on the day, with Minutewoman Kelsey Anderson earning a red card in the 89th minute. The card resulted in her ejection and was the first red card the team has received all year.

“We aren’t an overtly aggressive team,” Matz said. “We had one of the fewest numbers of yellow cards in the league before this game. That isn’t how we play, and I think that the officials were more partial to giving us cards after the elbow incident midway through the first half. It was extremely frustrating for us.”

Rhode Island also received two yellow cards on the day, and led UMass in fouls, 16-10. It also led in offside calls, 3-2.

Given the unusual nature of the game, Matz was still disappointed by his team’s performance.

“We expected a better performance from ourselves for this game,” Matz said. “It was a frustrating game with all the calls, and URI did play great defense, but we didn’t play good enough. Our defense did great, but our offense didn’t really show up. We’ve been too inconsistent all year, and it’s really hurting our play. We could’ve pulled ourselves into the upper half of the A-10 with a win today, but we didn’t, and now we have to live with that.”

Matz called on his team to sharpen its sense of urgency as the season gets closer to the end.

“I don’t need to go over anything with them,” Matz said. “At this point in the season, they either get it or they don’t. We have four games left on the season, and if we want to make it into the playoffs, they have to sense the urgency and step up. This is their time.”

David Martin can be reached at [email protected]

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