UMass women’s soccer looks to right ship against URI on Friday

By Joey Saade

Araz Havan/Daily Collegian

Finding itself in the midst of a three-game winless streak, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team will look to Friday’s game against Rhode Island to snap back into its winning ways as the end of the season approaches.

Just two weeks ago, the Minutewomen were riding high on their season-high, three-game winning streak, playing their “best ball heading into conference play,” as UMass coach Ed Matz alluded to at the end of September.

Now, with their last victory a distant two weeks behind them, the Minutewomen (5-7-2, 1-2-1 Atlantic 10) are scrambling for consistency.

With four games remaining on its schedule, and an A-10 Tournament berth on the line, Matz stressed the importance of his team’s performance in the home stretch of the season.

“We need to win three out of those four matches to make sure we get ourselves into the A-10’s,” he said. “There’s no secrets in the A-10 this time of year, every single team knows every single team, and every team is scouted.”

The Minutewomen get their next shot at their long awaited win at home against the Rams.

URI (5-9, 0-4 A-10) enters Friday’s matchup on a four-game losing streak with its most recent defeat coming on Sunday, when it lost to Dayton, 4-0. The Rams have been shut out in each of their last three games.

In its last seven matches, URI posted only one victory while being outscored by its opponents 16-2.

Despite the Rams’ struggles of late, Matz knows that his team cannot downplay a matchup with a conference opponent, especially one that is hungry for a victory.

“Rhode Island’s backs are really against the wall, and their next loss is pretty much going to push them out of the A-10 Tournament,” he said. “I think they’re going to be playing like a wounded animal.”

One facet of UMass’ play, which has endured its struggles of late, is the offense. Scoring only one goal in their past three games, the Minutewomen are searching for answers.

No UMass player has scored more than three goals this season, as Brittany Moore and Alyssa D’Arcy lead the team with three goals apiece.

While Matz knew heading into the season that his offense would take on the goals-by-committee style of play, the team’s lack of one true scorer troubles the offense during a slump.

“We’re outshooting teams, we’re creating a lot of energy and a lot of buzz, but we just don’t have that person that has an extreme amount of confidence, that could just put balls away,” he said. “(We’re missing) that true goal scorer and I think that’s hurting us a little bit right now.”      While the offensive slump may not “come as a surprise” to Matz, neither does the way his defense is playing.

On Friday, the Minutewomen limited Dayton’s conference-leading offense to just a single goal.

In its last seven games, the UMass defense has not allowed more than one goal since its 2-1 loss to Brown back on Sept. 19.

“The defense gives us a chance to win every single game,” Matz said. “We know what we’re going to get out of our back four (defenders) and our goalkeeping. Our back four has really played well together as a unit, it’s been a joy to watch them mature as the year goes on.”

Having lost their last two home games at Rudd Field, the Minutewomen are focused on leaving Amherst with the ship right.

A win on Friday would bring them a step closer to reaching the A-10 Tournament, which is the primary goal Matz’s squad has set.

“We have to take care of business ourselves and not sit there and wait for other results to go our way,” Matz said. “We still have the power to make the A-10 Tournament.”

Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 3:30 p.m. at Rudd Field.

Joey Saade can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JSaade1225.