In 2010, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team relied on very few players to produce on offense.
Two of the Minutewomen’s top-three scorers from last season, then-junior forward Deanna Colarossi (nine goals, 20 points) and senior forward Meghan Collins (three goals, nine points), ranked first and third on the team in goals and points, respectively.
This season, despite its top scorers and point-getters returning to the team from last year, UMass (7-2-1, 1-0 Atlantic 10) has relied on a multitude of players to help fill the few offensive voids left behind.
Newcomers Moa Mattsson and Grace Coombs have contributed to the cause. Mattsson, a Swedish freshman and member on the U19 National Team, notched her first career goal against Maine in the final minutes to lift the Minutewomen over the Bears, 1-0, at home.
Coombs, a sophomore transfer from Bexleyheath, England, scored her first collegiate goal in a tight matchup against nationally ranked Boston University as UMass walked away with a 1-0 win.
Despite timely help from Mattsson and Coombs, Colarossi did come out of the gate strong at the start of the season, somewhat due to the gameplan set forth by UMass coach Ed Matz.
“A lot of the time in the beginning of the season, I was checking back, playing more in the midfield, so I found myself in a position more the pass,” said Colarossi after Saturday’s win over Rhode Island. “[Coach and I] were looking at reasons why I wasn’t getting the opportunities to score … Lately, we’ve been working on getting me in a position to be more on the offense.”
Recently, Colarossi has stepped up and has performed like the offensive threat from last season, scoring two goals in the last three games. In the team’s victory over URI on Saturday, Colarossi’s header at the 20 minute, 12 second-mark gave UMass a 1-0 lead in the first half.
Freshman Tori Sousa pushed the ball in on the right side and kicked into the box. As the goalie attempted to secure the ball in the air, Colarossi slid in underneath, looking for a rebound. After Rams goalie Ashley Harris defended the goal, allowing the ball to bounce off her, Colarossi jumped on it and headed the ball into the net for her third goal of the season.
Colarossi’s most notable goal this year came against Brown on Sept. 22, when she netted a golden goal to give UMass a 1-0 victory over the Bears in extra time.
Another key offensive contributor has emerged for the Minutewomen in senior forward Julie Morrissey.
Morrissey, a transfer this season from Cincinnati, has a team-leading five goals and 10 points, propelling UMass to wins over formidable opponents such as Elon and New Hampshire.
“She’s just a natural goal scorer,” said Matz. “When she gets the ball, she’s thinking one thing: to score. She’s going to take the person on, especially in a one-on-one situation … I have a lot of confidence that when she’s one-on-one, there are not a lot of defenders in college soccer that can handle her.”
Morrissey was a main offensive catalyst for the Cincinnati Bearcats for three years, prior to transferring to UMass. Between ’08 and ’10, the Abington, Mass. native posted 14 goals, five assists and 33 points.
Morrissey’s most notable game while in a Cincinnati uniform came in ’09 as a sophomore, when she tallied five points against Eastern Kentucky on her way to becoming the first Cincinnati women’s soccer player to earn Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“I kind of a just go with the flow of the play,” said Morrissey following Saturday’s win over URI. “Personally, I like to take players on, which has helped me a lot this season. I feel more relaxed here, with a lot of confidence in our team … I feel we’ve come a long, long way.”
As the A-10 season proceeds, the Minutewomen, who have relied on goals from a variety of players, will more than likely have to lean on the shoulders of Colarossi and Morrissey to come up in crunch time.
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at [email protected]