Jackie Bruno’s equalizer secures a tie for UMass against George Mason

By Arthur Hayden

Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian
Photo by Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

In her first match since Sep. 14, captain Jackie Bruno returned to competition in a big way on Friday after missing two matches with an injury for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team.

The Minutewomen fell behind 1-0 to their first Atlantic 10 Conference opponent of the year, George Mason, in the 34th minute. But Bruno responded 15 minutes later, scoring her third goal of the year and providing UMass with the 1-1 equalizer. She received a pass from forward Megan Burke, split through two defenders and drove a long-range shot into the top right hand corner of the goal to tie the match.

The match would stay tied at 1-1 through overtime.

“When Jackie came off the field the first time, I took her off and she wasn’t happy,” UMass coach Ed Matz said after he substituted her early in the game.

“I said ‘you need to take people on.’She went out there, took two people on and ripped that shot. I think it gave the team a big boost of confidence,” Matz said. “It was good to have our captain back.”

Despite yet another overtime appearance – UMass’ eighth in eleven matches – neither team could break the tie.
UMass (2-5-4) controlled possession in the first half, but the Patriots (2-7-1) struck first when forward Liz Hodges chipped a ball over UMass goalkeeper Cassidy Babin. It was the freshman’s second consecutive start between the pipes for the Minutewomen. She recorded four saves on the day.

Junior defenders Madison Smith and Georgia Gibson sparked the Minutewomen offense early, supporting runs up the sides of the field and feeding crosses across the middle, but UMass did not capitalize in front of the net.

“Madison and Georgia did a very good job of following our game plan” Matz said. “It’s just a matter of inches and execution in front of the goal, but like I told them we just gotta believe that it’s gonna come.”

With only one multiple-goal match to their name, this Minutewomen offense has been one of frustration this season. Sophomore midfielder Daniela Alvarez, who led all players with five shots on the day, nearly broke the tie in the 60th minute, but her header missed just left of the goal.

“We kept pushing and pushing. Things were just not going our way,” Alvarez said. “We had a couple of runs in the box, but the ball just seemed to deflect the other way. It looked like [the match] was going in our favor, but soccer’s a tricky sport and it went that way.”

When asked about the litany of overtime matches her team has played through, Alvarez was quick to downplay the impact and highlighted her team’s experience in these long matches.

“I actually don’t think [overtime] is tough at all, it’s just more mental factors when we get to overtime” she said. “We’re not tired or anything. We just need to think, we can get through this. We’ve been on the losing side, we’ve tied, and we’ve been on the winning side, so overtime is just whoever wants it gets it.”

It’s fitting that UMass’ first A-10 action ends in a double overtime draw. But despite the lackluster finish, Matz and the players admitted that playing conference rivals adds to the energy.

“I think it’s a different intensity for us” said Matz. “We had a really good week of training. The girls and the team were really prepared. I think we came out and we battled.”
Alvarez had a slightly different take.

“Just looking at our record [so far], we’ve had a rough season” she said. “We just saw this as an opportunity to start fresh. We wanted to come out here and get three points, ended up getting one, but we’re moving forward…We have a good schedule ahead of us and we want to get to Dayton.”

UMass will look to get their first conference win Sunday at Rudd Field against Saint Joseph’s University.

Arthur Hayden can be reached at [email protected]