Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Defense carrying load for Minutewomen

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team will head into Atlantic 10 play on a four-game tear, winning each game by a score of 1-0.

Matt Modica/Collegian
Matt Modica/Collegian

The streak in large part can be attributed to a stymieing defense and shut-down goalkeeping by junior Emily Cota. Cota was the winning goalkeeper in each of the four games during the streak, providing the team with a reliable last line of defense, less than a year after being sidelined with a leg injury.

UMass coach Ed Matz said that he only expects Cota to get better as the season goes along and that the competition between Cota and junior Stephanie Gordon has been a healthy one, bringing out the best in each one after competing in practice.

While Matz would like to see the offense erupt, he knows that the team’s defense can always keep them in the game, no matter what’s happening on offense.

“If we don’t allow teams to score on corners or set pieces and don’t make mistakes around the goal then you’re going to have success,” said Matz. “That’s been a pretty good recipe for us so far. If you’re going to score a goal on us it’ll be a really, really well stricken ball and that’s kind of what our philosophy is.”

The Minutewomen have capitalized on those same kind of mistakes made by the opposition. In the game against Dartmouth this past Tuesday night, UMass scored 20 seconds into the game after the Big Green turned the ball over inside their defensive zone.

The entire team has rallied if one side of the ball isn’t producing the way it should. Because the offense has only mustered one goal in each game, the defense was there to pick them up. And that’s just what Matz wants to see.

“Everybody has responsibilities,” said Matz. “I think the mentality is you can make a mistake when your teammate is there to back you up. That’s kind of the mentality we have.”

That sort of team effort will have to continue in A-10 play. There are currently eight of 14 teams playing above .500. One of those teams that UMass will face  Oct. 16, La Salle (8-0-1), remains undefeated, only sitting behind Dayton (10-1-0) in the A-10 standings.

La Salle has also become accustomed to taking games down to the wire. Four of the Explorers’ last six victories have come by the score of 1-0.

While Matz said that he wants the team to take the same approach to each game, it’s important to know just how different of an animal the A-10 schedule will be.

“I told the team [Tuesday] night there is no winning streak now,” said Matz. “Everybody’s 0-0 … that part of our season’s over. You won’t make the A-10 tournament on what you did in your non-conference schedule.”

The records show that La Salle will pose the biggest threat to the Minutewomen during the A-10 schedule. Other teams that UMass will face include some of the conference’s basement dwellers, Saint Louis (2-5-2) and Duquesne (1-7-1).

Those matchups in particular may play to the Mintewomen’s advantage, as neither team has been lighting up the scoreboard. SLU has already been shut out six times in its first nine games. Duquesne has been shut out five times and has not scored more than two goals in a game all season.

No matter if the defense keeps the stretch alive, or UMass finds yet another way to pull out victories, the team’s attitude will stay the same, according to Matz.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time with the realization that we got to bring it every single game if we want to reach our goal of taking the A-10 tournament,” said Matz.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected].


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