Minutewomen to host Bears Thursday

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

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Maria Uminski/Collegian

Behind late goals, sound defense and stingy goalkeeping, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team has won its last two games. The Minutewomen’s next challenge comes Thursday, when they host Brown at Rudd Field.

Last year, UMass came from behind twice in the first half to tie the score, but ultimately fell to the Bears (4-1-1), 3-2.

“Last year, it sort of turned into a scoring spree,” said coach Ed Matz. “It went back and forth, where they would score, then we would. We want to avoid that this time around, because it can exhaust you as a player, moving up and down the field like that for an entire match.”

The Minutewomen (4-2-1) are currently riding the hot goalkeeping of junior Emily Cota, who started 13 games for the Minutewomen last season. Since Matz inserted Cota into the starting lineup before UMass’ game against Harvard on Sept. 9, Cota has only given up two goals in three games. She has been able to shut out opponents in the last two contests, blanking No. 20 Boston University, 1-0, on Sept. 11 and Maine, 1-0, last Friday.

“Certainly, Emily has played well the last few games, but there’s been no decision as to who will start yet,” said Matz. “If Emily continues to work hard in practice, she will have a good opportunity to play.”

While senior Julie Morrissey leads the team in goals scored with three, UMass has seen a multitude of players putting the ball in the net the last few games, including freshman midfielder Moa Mattsson, whose late second half goal from a strike 20 yards out lifted the Minutewomen over Maine. UMass has also seen sophomore Grace Coombs and senior Erin McGaffigan contribute to its recent offensive success.

“Grace has been able to help on midfield and allow players like Moa and Cecilia [Jensen] to move up field more,” said Matz. “As they get more comfortable with each other on the field, good things will continue to happen.”

Brown’s success this year comes from closing out games and taking late leads, as the Bears have scored eight of its 10 goals in the second half of play.

The UMass defense will have its hands full with sophomore forward Berg Kiersten, who leads the Bears in goals (three), points (nine) and shots (19).

The Minutewomen will also look to slow down freshman Chloe Cross. Cross’ game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over New Hampshire, along with and assist in a loss against Sacred Heart last week earned her this week’s Ivy League Rookie of the Week honor.

With a variety of Minutewomen contributing on offense, along with the Bears playing two goalies consistently throughout this early season, UMass will look for contributions throughout the roster during the contest.

“I’ve always coached with the idea that you will come out as a player, in favor of getting fresh legs,” said Matz. “Unless you’re constantly creating opportunities, you will come off and allow others to help contribute. It keeps everyone fresh out there.”

Despite the Bears’ ability to create second-half opportunities, the Minutewomen will not change its overall strategy of controlling the midfield, playing sound defense, and, occasionally, pushing up on the ball in its offensive area.

“We don’t look at it as game planning necessarily for their surges in the second half,” said Matz. “We are trying to emphasize playing well for all 90 minutes, and we hope that we will be able to make pushes in the second half of the game as well.”

Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]