Emily Cota out as starting goalkeeper, for now

By Cameron McDonough

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian File Photo

Emily Cota has lost the starting job.

Cota led the Massachusetts women’s soccer team to a berth in the Atlantic 10 championship game and posted a 12-4-1 season record last season.

But she lost the starting position.

Cota, who started 17 of the Minutewomen’s 21 games last season, lost her starting role to fellow senior Stephanie Gordon, who, according to UMass coach Ed Matz, is outperforming Cota as the season commences, and that is why she is starting.

“Our philosophy with the goalkeeping is whoever is playing best gets the nod,” Matz said. “Right now, Steph is playing really well and she’s keeping us in games and giving us a chance to win every game, so that’s all we can really ask of our goalkeeping. So right now, it’s Steph’s job and we are fortunate that Emily works very hard and will be ready if we need her.”

Matz described the ongoing competition between the two as a “healthy” one. He said he understands that both players strive to be the starter.

“I think they push each other and bring the best out of each other in practice,” Matz said. “It’s Division I soccer so there is a lot of competition and I think they both realize that, but I think they are there for each other. They do support each other, but both of them wants to start.”

From the outset, Cota understood that she had to earn her starting role back and that it wouldn’t be easy.

“It’s never just given to someone, Cota said. “Just because I played last year doesn’t mean that I automatically get it again.”

As the starter last season, Cota won several awards including being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference team, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Women’s Division 1 All-Mid-Atlantic team and the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Soccer Association All-New England team.

In her 17 starts, Cota allowed 14 goals (0.82 goals-against average). She also made 97 saves for a.874 save percentage and posted 10 shutouts.

Cota also saw significant playing time in her sophomore and freshmen seasons too.

Gordon, the new starting goalkeeper for the 2012 season, came to UMass as a transfer in 2010 from Northeastern where she left holding the Terriers’ record for goals-against average (1.09).

After sitting out the 2010 season as a transfer, Gordon served primarily as Cota’s back up. She played in five games (with four starts).

Cota said she is determined to get back to last season’s form.

“I want to play as much as I can and regardless, I’m always fighting for the starting spot and playing time and I love that competition,” Cota said. “I want to get out there on the field and help my team as much as possible.”

And when that chance comes, Cota will be ready.

“Knowing that I might play one game this week and maybe not one next week, that’s more difficult and I feel like I have to concentrate more on practice and make sure that I keep making good decisions.”

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MCD_McDonough.