Minutewomen to host Duquesne, St. Bonaventure this weekend

By David Martin

In what will be its last two home games of the regular season, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team will try to improve its standing in the Atlantic 10 conference as it takes on Duquesne and St. Bonaventure this weekend at Rudd Field.

Jeff Bernstein/Flickr
Jeff Bernstein/Flickr

The Minutewomen (9-3-2, 3-1-1 A-10) are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to conference-leading La Salle (13-0-1, 5-0-0 A-10), a loss that not only ended their eight-game unbeaten streak, but also dropped them from second to third in the conference standings.

Despite the defeat, UMass played very well against an Explorers team that many consider to be one of the best teams in the country. The Minutewomen showed strong defense, fluid ball movement and successful offensive drives, all attributes that UMass coach Ed Matz hopes will carry over into their critical conference matches this weekend.

Despite the intensity and weight that each game brings as the season draws to a close, UMass knows how to handle itself under the pressure. The squad’s consistent game-to-game approach has worked this far into the season, and Matz sees no need to change that dynamic.

“[We are doing] nothing out of the ordinary,” said Matz. “We are just practicing like we normally do, getting back in the right frame of mind after Sunday’s game.

“This time of year, there are a lot of teams fighting to get into the playoffs, and there are a lot of teams who have their backs against the wall,” added Matz. “It is certainly a dangerous time of year where, if a team loses, they could find themselves out of the playoffs or out of the six-team hunt.”

As they aim to keep pace with the top teams in the A-10, the Minutewomen will first take on a struggling Dukes squad that is also looking to rebound from a tightly-contested loss on Friday afternoon.

Last Sunday, Duquesne (3-10-1, 2-3-0 A-10) lost 1-0 in overtime at home to Charlotte (5-7-4, 2-2-1 A-10). With the loss, the Dukes currently occupy the No. 10 seed in the A-10 standings, just one point ahead of Saint Joseph’s (6-5-4, 1-2-2 A-10), putting them in an uncomfortable position. With little room for error, Matz knows that they will be a tough team to play against.

“Duquesne made the playoffs last year, but this year, they have struggled a bit as far as getting results,” said Matz. “It is just the back-end of the A-10 double headers they are having trouble with. Besides that, they are a team that is playing to get into the playoffs and they are a team that changes their formations a lot. It will not be easy.”

After their bout against Duquesne, the Minutewomen will then face the Bonnies on Sunday afternoon to close out their regular season home schedule.

SBU (7-5-3, 2-1-2 A-10) is currently riding a three-game unbeaten streak and is ranked at No. 6 in the A-10. The Bonnies have performed well on the road with a 3-1-0 mark, and given the momentum of their past few games, they will undoubtedly make for a tough opponent on UMass’ own Senior Day.

Unfortunately for the Minutewomen, they will likely be without senior leading-scorer Deanna Colarossi who was injured during last Friday’s 2-0 win over Fordham.

David Martin can be reached at [email protected]