Moa Mattsson carrying struggling UMass offense

By Chris Corso

Bernstein/Collegian

The simple fact for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team is that the Minutewomen have had a tough time putting the ball in the net so far this season.

Carrying the load for the UMass attack this year has been sophomore midfielder Moa Mattsson. The 2011 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie has scored exactly half of the Minutewomen’s goals this season (4).

With the loss of the UMass’ two leading scorers from last season, Julie Morrissey and Diana Colarossi, Mattsson has been the only player on the team to become a consistent threat to score.

“Moa (Mattsson) had a very good last year for us and it usually takes international players about a year to get comfortable,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “She is really settling in this year at UMass and is the core of our system.”

Matz and the rest of the women’s team had high hopes for Mattsson after a stunning rookie season, but have been surprised with her ability to land the ball in the net.

But Mattsson was not a big-time goal producer last season. Instead, she engineered the Minutewomen offense, leading the team with four assists while only scoring one goal all year.

“We need Mattsson up front this year to provide more offense for our team,” Matz said. “All I know is when other teams create a game plan to beat us, they center their plan around trying to stop Mattsson.”
Through the first month of the season, the Minutewomen have attempted just 74 shots, while allowing their opponents 157 shots, which has put a lot of pressure on their young, maturing defense.

A major disappointment for Matz through the first eight games has been the performance of sophomore forward Tori Sousa. Sousa had a breakout rookie season in 2011, joining Mattsson as an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honoree, while finishing third on the team with four goals and 12 points.

But this year, the underclassman has been scoreless through the Minutewomen’s first eight games. Sousa is just seventh on the team in shots on goal (4), which is startling to Matz, who expects his team to be a contender in the A-10 this season.

When asked, Matz said he couldn’t name one player he thinks will step up as Mattsson’s goal-scoring partner. He believes it will take a team effort to increase the offense’s success.

“I think our goals are going to have to come from a variety of people,” Matz said. “I think that several girls need to step up and a make contributions to our attack. It would be nice to have three other players who can score four to five goals this season.”

When scanning the UMass roster for another offensive threat, a name that has to stick out is transfer upperclassman Hlin Gunnlaugsdottir, who is from the University of Iceland, and is projected by her coach to be one of the top players in the A-10 this season.

The Iceland native has demonstrated the potential to score goals and stands second on the team with 12 shot attempts. She has shown the drive to beat her defender and only trails Mattsson on the team with six shots on goal.

Another player who has shown promise on the offensive side of the ball is freshman forward Jackie Bruno.

Bruno scored her first goal of her collegiate career against Boston University on Sunday, helping the Minutewomen complete the 2-0 upset.

The freshman has stood out in practice and has earned two recent starts after receiving limited playing time at the beginning of the season. Matz said he’s excited to watch Bruno grow in his offense this season.

If UMass has any desire to be a force in the A-10 this season, one or both of Gunnlaugsdottir and Bruno will likely need to help Mattsson, and aid an offense that has simply struggled to score goals.

Chris Corso can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Corso