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 hopes added depth brings more consistency in 2014

Collegian file photo
Collegian file photo

The Massachusetts women’s soccer team will open its season Friday in Harrisonburg, Virginia, against Towson as it takes part in the James Madison University Invitational.

The Minutewomen are coming off of a season in which they finished 7-9-4 and made it to the Atlantic 10 semifinals before being eliminated by second-seeded LaSalle. An Explorer’s penalty kick in extra time proved to be the deciding goal in the match.

Entering 2014, UMass was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 preseason rankings, which was voted on by coaches, something coach Ed Matz said the players have barely paid attention to.

“We put [the rankings] up in the locker room and they haven’t really said anything about it,” Matz said. “We’re focused on the season and have just been trying to work on our consistency.”

Consistency is something that Matz hopes to see more of this season after his team struggled at home as well as against inferior opponents last year.

“We played really well last year against teams that were strong and sometimes with teams that were not so strong, we had a tendency to let up,” Matz said. “We also feel that we didn’t play as well at home as we did on the road.”

The team traveled to Virginia multiple days in advance in order to become acclimated with the weather, and they are accompanied by co-captain, Rebekka Sverrisdóttir, who was named to the All-Atlantic 10 preseason team earlier this month. Sverrisdóttir is one of eight returning starters on the squad, with three of those starters coming back on the defensive end.

Megan Burke, the team’s leading returning scorer, Julia Weithofer, an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection last season and goalkeeper Danielle Kriscenski, who played every minute of the 20 matches last season, are also among those returning.

Along with their veterans, the Minutewomen will also be accompanied by seven incoming freshmen, which Matz said he’s equally as excited about.

“One of the things that excites us about this group is that from one to 23, it’s a very competitive group of ladies and that brings out the best in everyone,” Matz said.

The competitive group has given Matz plenty of opportunities to toy with his lineup. He has praised the team for its cooperation and understanding during the process.

Matz said his teams are often playing their best soccer at the end of the season, something he hopes will be repeated with this year’s squad.

“We are very young, but I hope they follow the trends of those teams that I’ve coached in the past where they get stronger and we’re playing our best soccer around October when we’re looking at the A-10’s,” Matz said.
“We’ve gotten better from the first scrimmage, to the second scrimmage, to the third scrimmage and defensively we will be very, very good.”

With consistency being one point of emphasis, Matz is also pushing offense and team chemistry as other focal points. The bulk of the concern has been about their inability to put the ball in the net. The Minutewomen scored just 22 goals in 2013.

“We’re hoping to improve and try to get our defenders and midfielders involved and not just our forwards,” Matz said of the offense.

Matz said his players have also embraced the team’s depth. He said he expects to adjust his lineup on a regular basis until he figures out one that best suits his team.

“A lineup we start on Friday may not be the one we start on Monday because we have the luxury of playing matchups,” Matz said. “I told them not to get so caught up in the starting lineup and who does or doesn’t start, just to do your job and to come into whatever your role is and be happy with it so that when you’re on the field you’re bringing something to UMass soccer.”

Frank Corona can be reached at [email protected].

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