Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s soccer wasting no time

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

It’s no secret that the team that scores first can dictate the possession and control the pace of a soccer game.

That’s exactly what the Massachusetts women’s soccer team has done in its latest two victories against conference foes Xavier and Rhode Island. The two wins have improved coach Ed Matz’s team to 7-6 overall and 2-1 in Atlantic 10 play.

Since being blown out, 4-0, in their A-10 home opener to conference-leading Dayton, the Minutewomen have rebounded strongly, finding ways to get out in front in the opening minutes of each game.

Every one of UMass’ seven wins on the season has come when the team has scored first in the game, including Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Rams at Rudd Field.

Their second straight win was a result of a quick start offensively. Just 31 seconds into the match, leading scorer Moa Mattsson delivered a pass to Grace Coombs that was struck from 25 feet out into the back of the net, giving UMass another early lead.

“We have been working on starting quickly and starting well, and in every game we’ve won we have scored the first goal,” Coombs said in an interview with UMass Athletics. “So we’ve really been emphasizing that.”

The Minutewomen continued their hot offensive start with two more goals in the first half. The first came on a Mattsson header off a corner kick from forward Tori Sousa in the 25th minute of play. Just seven minutes later, sophomore midfielder Emily Benjamin booted in the first goal of her college career on another cross from Sousa.

When UMass can gain an early lead, Matz thinks it calms his team down.

“We put together two back-to-back good games,” Matz said to UMass Athletics. “We came out really well today off the opening and scored that goal … I think that put a lot of pressure on Rhode Island and that really calmed us down.”

On Sept. 30, the Minutewomen made their mark on the scoreboard with just three minutes, 17 seconds elapsed off the clock against the Musketeers. Coombs delivered an outstanding, over-the-top through ball to Mattsson, who deposited the ball for the goal and early lead.

“It was a great feeling to start off the game like that,” Mattsson said after the Xavier win, who leads the Minutewomen with 7 goals.

Following the early score, the game was dictated by the offense of UMass without Xavier threatening on the offensive end. The young Minutewomen defense did not allow a single, legitimate scoring opportunity for the Musketeers for the remainder of the game.

The Minutewomen attack continued to dominate early in the game, attempting 15 more shots before halftime.

UMass went on to win the one-sided affair, 2-0, and Matz was impressed with the team’s ability to bounce back from the Dayton defeat, showing initiative early in last week’s game, which took the pressure off of the team.

“The key to the game was the play in the first half when Grace (Coombs) played it quick up to Moa and Moa finished that ball,” Matz said. “I think that took a lot of pressure off of us.”

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

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