2 victories, 1 spot closer to Atlantic 10 tournament

By David Martin

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

As the hunt for the postseason heats up, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team increased its chances for a spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament with two 1-0 victories against St. Bonaventure and Duquesne in its final two regular season games at Rudd Field this weekend.

The Minutewomen (11-3-2, 5-1-1 A-10) were led in both of their matches by the offensive production of senior Julie Morrissey and junior goalkeeper Emily Cota. Morrissey scored both of UMass’ game-winning goals, bringing her goal total to seven and her point total to 14, while Cota’s 11 saves bumped her season total to 67, her goals-against average down to 0.57 and her save percentage up to .905.

The Minutewomen performed well on Sunday afternoon against the strong and capable Bonnies (8-6-3, 3-2-2 A-10) squad that had gone 3-0-1 in its previous four matches. The Minutewomen limited SBU’s offensive efforts through tight coverage in the defensive zone and their own sustained offensive drives that were often spearheaded by freshmen like forward Tori Sousa and midfielder Moa Mattsson. UMass outshot the Bonnies 12-6 and held the edge in corner kicks, 6-2.

“I thought that it was a complete game for us,” said UMass coach Ed Matz. “I thought we played well in the first half and that we came out and played well in the second half. We put a lot of pressure [on the net] and created some good chances. I told the kids at the end of the game that it was a playoff atmosphere and that they played well in that setting.”

The win also marks the first time that UMass won 11 games in a season since 2006, in which the squad finished with an 11-6-0 record.

After a scoreless first half, the Minutewomen put themselves on the board in the 58th minute with Morrissey’s goal, a high shot that was out of Bonnie goalkeeper Megan Junker’s diving reach. Mattsson was credited with the assist, her third of the year.

For Morrissey, the goal was big not only because it was the only tally on the day but also because it further cemented the club’s claim as one of the best teams in the conference and was scored by a senior on Senior Day.

“I definitely think that it’s inspirational, especially since everyone is so excited,” said Morrissey. “Obviously I like to score as a forward, but it means a lot more because my family and friends are here and it means so much to my teammates for us to get the win.”

Before the game’s start, UMass’ six seniors were honored on the field by the coaching staff, team officials and their fellow teammates, in honor of Senior Day. The seniors honored, in addition to Morrissey, were forwards Erin McGaffigan, Natalie Muka and Deanna Colarossi, as well as defenders Meghan Collins and Lindsey DiOrio.

On Friday afternoon, the Minutewomen played well against the Dukes (3-12-1, 1-3-3 A-10) with heavy offensive pressure and strong presence of mind.(EDITORIALIZING) Duquesne, who is fighting for one of the final seeds in the A-10, was unable to generate much offense and spent much of the game trying to fend off UMass. The Dukes were finally broken as Morrissey registered the Minutewomen tally in the 30th minute off a shot in the box.

The win on Friday marked Matz’s 200th career victory as a head collegiate soccer coach. Matz’s all-time record is now 200-179-43 over 22 seasons, in which he coached nine seasons for the Northeastern men’s team, 11 seasons for its women’s team and two seasons at UMass.

David Martin can be reached at [email protected]