Freshmen Sousa, Mattsson contributing heavily

By Eric Mansfield

This year’s newcomers to the Massachusetts women’s soccer team have been making their presence felt, helping the Minutewomen achieve a 3-1-1 conference record which is good for third in the standings. UMass’ overall record is 9-3-2.

Jeff Bernstein/Flickr

Jeff Bernstein/Flickr

Freshmen Tori Sousa and Moa Mattsson have stood out recently, as Sousa scored two goals and Mattsson had two assists last weekend to help UMass split the conference matchups with Fordham and La Salle.

The goals were Sousa’s first of the season, one of which came against La Salle which boasts one of the best defenses in the country. The Explorers (13-0-1, 5-0 A-10) have only given up three goals on the season.

Sousa’s other goal proved to be the game-winner against Fordham last Friday in less than ideal weather conditions at Rudd Field.

“Tori is a talented player,” said UMass coach Ed Matz. “She needs to keep elevating her game to the college play, which she’s done. She can be a very, very dangerous player with the ball when she’s going towards the goal. She can make good things happen for us.”

Sousa’s scoring ability finally showed itself on Sunday, as the rookie streaked past a defender to grab a lead pass from Mattsson before kicking the ball past a charging goalkeeper and defender.

The play showed how those two younger players could connect on a play that was hard to execute.

Sousa was rewarded for her efforts by being named A-10 Rookie of the Week and UMass Athlete of the Week.

Mattsson has been a dependable offensive force, recording a goal and two assists as well as 30 shots, good for second on the team.

“I think Moa has been very consistent for us. She had a couple of assists this weekend. She can play a couple different positions for us which is very, very helpful this time of year,” said Matz.

Matz went on to say that with the recent injury to leading-scorer Deanna Colarossi, Mattsson has proved to be a solid replacement at the striker position, where Colarossi has tallied 11 points on four goals and three assists.

Having those options in front of them has proved beneficial for the Minutewomen, especially against their tougher opponents.

Mattsson proved her worth moving up to striker in a game against La Salle’s stout defense. Sousa not only scored against La Salle but against Fordham as well, a team that currently sits right behind UMass in the A-10 standings in fourth place.

The kind of effort those two players put forth is part of the reason Matz believes that the Minutewomen can compete with conference-leading La Salle once more in the A-10 playoffs.

Whether it has been the defense, which had a streak of four shutouts earlier in the season, or the newcomers stepping up when other players go down, Matz is just happy that his team is improving with each passing week.

“We’ve done a lot of positive things and we just have to keep going,” said Matz.

The Minutewomen are set to welcome two A-10 foes in Duquesne and St. Bonaventure to Rudd Field this weekend. Both teams are looking up at UMass in the standings, as the Dukes occupy sixth place and the Bonnies occupy the 10th position.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at eaman[email protected]