Minutewomen look to continue their season in weekend game against Saint Bonaventure.

By Tom Mulherin

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

After the Massachusetts women’s soccer team finally looked to be back on track with a win against St. Joseph’s on Oct. 5, the Minutemen have dropped back-to back games and now find themselves at No.11 of the Atlantic 10 conference standings, as they prepare to square off against No.12 Saint Bonaventure on Friday afternoon.

Entering the weekend, the pressure to win games is higher than ever for UMass (3-7-4, 1-2-1 A-10), as the struggling squad will play its last two home games in the pursuit to make the A-10 Conference Tournament. To qualify for the tournament in the postseason, UMass needs to be in the top eight of the conference standings, but currently sits behind Duquesne – who play the Minutewomen on Sunday – by three points (one win). Saint Louis and George Mason also stand ahead of the Minutewomen, resting at the No.9 and No.10 spots.

“I would say the urgency to win is extremely high right now,” head coach Ed Matz said. “The good thing is that we still control our own destiny. If we win we make the (tournament). The simple fact is that there’s this urgency because we have to win.”

With four games left in the season, winning will help UMass clinch a berth into the postseason. However, the concept of winning is easier said than done, especially for the Minutewomen whom have only won three games all season. A large contributing factor into why the team fails to reach a winning threshold is a struggling offense, which Matz believes it has out-played other teams in every aspect except for actually scoring goals.

“We obviously need to put the ball in the back of the net,” he said. “That’s been our focus, and it has haunted us all season long. We create a lot of opportunities and dominate in a lot of statistics, but at the end of the day, you got to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Matz says despite not scoring as frequently as the team needs to, there are a lot of people who can score on the roster. The only issue is that a lot of these scorers are starting to shy away from shooting on open shots. The urgency to win is high, but self-confidence is showing to be fading away.

“What I’ve seen in the past couple of games is that we’re passing up on a lot of shots,” Matz said on problems during the recent losses. “Sometimes this happens when players are losing their confidence a little bit. You don’t want people to pass up on scoring opportunities because we do have people that can score, it’s just they’re not very confident right now.”

With the final stretch of the season approaching, confidence is not an aspect a team wants to lose, especially when hunting for needed wins to extend the season. Therefore, when players do start to lose some of their mojo, it is important for team leaders to step in and right the ship.

“I do think our captains Jackie Bruno and Rebekka Sverrisdóttir have (kept the girls’ confidence up),” Matz said. “Also (seniors) Becky Landers and Stacie Murray have been very focused in practice this week, doing everything they can do for our team.”

As for what will come from UMass in this upcoming game, Matz expects the girls to come out with urgency. As Matz puts it, they’re going to need that urgency to make a final push for postseason play.

“They have to come out with some urgency, and come out with a chip on their shoulder,” he said. “Every team wants to make it to the A-10 Tournament out of all 14. We just have to play like the team that wants it more, and we’ll do anything it takes to get there.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]