Freshmen making their mark for UMass women’s soccer

By Tom Mulherin

This year’s Massachusetts women’s soccer team is proving that freshmen can indeed play right away.

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

This season, the Minutewomen (5-6-1, 1-1 Atlantic 10) have 12 freshmen on their 26-player roster, with 10 of those 12 being true freshmen. Almost all of these freshmen have seen playing time — seven of them have received a substantial amount of minutes — and many have even started.

In the 12 games that UMass has played, UMass coach Ed Matz has been rewarded several times for having faith in his young squad. Redshirt freshman Danielle Kriscenski has started every game as goalkeeper and has only twice allowed more than two goals in a game. Freshman defender Frida Lindblom has helped the team’s defense keep shots away from Kriscenski, especially in overtime. In those overtime games, the Minutewomen have only lost once, as freshmen Megan Burke and Sarah Pandolfi have each scored a game-winning goal in those instances.

But Matz still has another contribution in mind, one that he sees as the most impressive.

“The one freshman that has surprised me the most has been Julia (Weithofer),” Matz said. “She comes in and she marks the best player on the other team, she plays the most out of any of our freshmen and she is rarely off the field. If you were to ask me which freshman impressed me, it would be that one the most.”

Going into the season, Matz said that he always had confidence that his young players would contribute. He did not, however, expect the freshmen to take their contributions as far as they did, especially the way that Pandolfi, Burke and Weithofer have.

“I expected contributions from all of my freshmen,” he said. “We have a very talented freshman class, and as a whole I expected contributions, but maybe not from those three in particular.”

The Minutewomen now have two A-10 games under their belts, and regarding their upcoming conference matchups, Matz says that he feels that the rookies are ready to help the team even more.

“What I try to do is give them every opportunity in non-conference games to show what they can do and to gain experience and confidence,” he said. “I think (the freshmen) gained confidence and benefited from the playing time we have provided them, and I think all of our freshmen are going to have to contribute in order to try to make a run at the A-10 Tournament.”

Matz continued by saying, “I’m very excited. Hopefully over the next month we will see other freshmen emerge and contribute.”

Key first-year standouts such as Pandolfi, Weithofer and Burke figure to factor into this equation as the season progresses, as well as other freshmen that Matz has kept his eye on.

“I think all three of (those freshmen) are certainly key components,” he said. “I also think Alyssa (Fratarcangeli) and Daniela Alvarez are two freshmen that have been hurt have been key contributors.

“We have a very talented freshman class and they are just going to get better and better. The future is very bright for UMass women’s soccer.”


Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]