Women’s soccer searches for consistency against Bryant

By Joey Saade

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Still searching for its first winning streak of the season, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team hosts Bryant on Thursday looking to put an end to that drought.

Coming off another come-from-behind victory in overtime on Sunday against Northeastern, UMass (3-5-1) has shown its ability to stay resilient in trying circumstances.

“I don’t think I’ve ever questioned how hard this teams works, and their will and desire to win,” Minutewoman coach Ed Matz said. “They have a lot of heart.”

Sunday’s game marked the second time this season the Minutewomen fought off an early deficit and come out with a win.

According to Matz, that mentality is one characteristic that sets this team apart from past squads.

“If we gave up a goal early, we rarely came back to turn that game around,” he said of his team last year. “I have a lot of confidence in these players, and when someone is having an off day, I don’t hesitate to switch or go with something else. We challenge all the players on the bench to come in and pick up the challenge of play.”

On the other side, Bryant also seems to be hitting its stride.

After losing their first three games of the season, the Bulldogs (4-5) come into Amherst having won four of their last six games.

In those four wins, Bryant has outscored its opponents 8-1, including three shutout victories. Junior forward Suzanne Sanders leads the Bulldogs offensively with three goals and six points in eight games this season.

On the defensive end, goalkeepers Lauren Viverito and Kaylan Conrad split games in net. The two have combined for 21 total saves in their team’s last three games.

Last season’s matchup between the two teams ended in a 3-2 UMass victory. Thursday’s game will just be another test for Matz’s squad.

“Last year was a very, very close game between us,” he said. “It’s just a matter of going out with the same attitude for every single game.”|

Despite staying competitive in nearly every game this season – six of their nine games have been decided by one goal, not including a tie against Providence – the Minutewomen have yet to show consistency in the win column.

Matz acknowledges that it’s vital for his team to start a winning streak to not only gain momentum moving forward, but to also stay alive in the hunt for an Atlantic 10 Tournament berth.

“One of the challenges of coaching a young team is to get consistency,” Matz said. “It’s one of the things we work for and discuss. If you don’t put together back-to-back wins, it’s very difficult and nearly impossible to move on.”

With comeback performances in two of its last three games, UMass seems to have finally turned the corner and is taking steps in the right direction.

If the team hopes to contend for a tournament bid, its next step will be to start its first winning streak of the season.

Kickoff for Thursday’s contest is set for 4 p.m. at Rudd Field.

Joey Saade can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jsaade1225.