Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s soccer’s offense shines in 2-0 victory over Duquesne

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

After an impressive 2-0 victory over Duquesne on Sunday, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team earned its first winning streak of the season.

The streak could not have come at a better time, as the Minutewomen picked up six points in the Atlantic 10 standings during their final two home games over the weekend with only two games remaining before the playoffs.

Questions arose regarding the lack of offensive production following back-to-back losses against A-10 opponents George Washington and Rhode Island. But UMass silenced its critics early with two first-half goals on only three shots in the opening half.

“I think this is the first game this year where it was just a lot of guts, a lot of heart, a lot of communication,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “Usually we’re on the other side where we outshoot the other team, so we had timely goals.”

The Minutewomen (5-7-4, 3-2-1 A-10) wasted no time getting on the board, as Jackie Bruno scored in the fourth minute off a feed from freshman Natalie Perussault. Bruno’s goal was her team-high sixth of the season.

Perussault added her first collegiate goal in the 30th minute off an assist from Megan Burke to give the Minutewomen a 2-0 lead early in the contest.

“My first collegiate goal, it feels fantastic,” Perussault said. “I’ve been waiting for it, so it’s nice to finally get rewarded.”

After UMass dominated the first half, the second featured a seemingly rejuvenated Dukes’ team, as they got off 14 of their 16 shots in the final frame.

Duquesne (5-9-3, 2-4-1 A10) was led offensively by freshman Linne Faccenda and sophomore Cydney Staton, who each recorded three shots for the game. Danielle Kriscenski was back in goal for the Minutewomen and recorded seven saves, six of which came in the pivotal second half.

Depite being outshot 14-2 in the final 45 minutes, including a couple of late scares from the Dukes with a number of shots deflecting off of the crossbar, UMass held on defensively to improve to a winning record against A-10 opponents.

“Our defense played well and I think today we hung on a little bit at the end but Duquesne had to win this game, we had to win this game … the winner of this game has a much better chance of going on to make the A-10 playoffs,” Matz said. “So there was a huge sense of urgency for both teams today.”

Offensive urgency has been a point of emphasis for the Minutewomen for most of the season, and making sure they put pressure on the Duquesne defense and avoiding an early deficit was a critical part of their success.

“We got a lot more shots off I feel and we are finally putting them in the back of the net, we put two in the first half so that’s really good and it’s really good to put them away fast,” Perussault said. “They came out really hard the second half so to just put it away early was good.”

Although avoiding an early deficit was important for UMass, Matz said the Minutewomen are more focused on getting the offense going early for the sake of raising the team’s confidence level.

“Scoring two goals in a game is a sigh of relief for the kids,” Matz said. “As I said last week, I think we were losing our confidence a little bit so we worked on that all week long, making sure kids didn’t lose their confidence and kids still shot.”

UMass only has two games left in its schedule before the start of the A-10 playoffs. The Minutewomen will next travel to Richmond, Virginia to take on the Spiders Friday.

Frank Corona can be reached at [email protected]

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