UMass women’s soccer struck by injuries, struggles offensively as it falls to No. 24 Rutgers

By Adam Aucoin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Prior to this weekend, the last time the Massachusetts women’s soccer team faced off against Rutgers was in 1994 in the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinal, a game that UMass won on its way to winning the tournament.

The two teams’ next battle played out Sunday with different results for the Minutewomen, as the Scarlet Knights (4-0) shut them out 1-0. The game leaves UMass (0-2-1) still searching for their first win of 2015.

The first and only goal of the game was recorded in the 83rd minute when Rutgers sophomore forward Colby Ciarrocca pushed a shot past UMass goalkeeper Cassidy Babin on a controversial goal where Ciarrocca was supposedly offside, according to Minutewomen coach Ed Matz, but awarded with the game-deciding goal.

UMass’ offense struggled mightily throughout the game with only two shots against the Scarlet Knights’ stingy defense. Only one of the shots was on goal.

Despite the struggles, Matz didn’t chalk up the loss to how the offense played Sunday. He instead focused on the injuries the Minutewomen are facing that have kept the team from reaching their full potential.

“It’s like taking the starting quarterback out of a lineup and expecting the team to still be ok,” Matz said. “We are asking a lot of girls to step into roles they haven’t been in before so it’s a work in progress.”

According to Matz, seven of UMass’ regular players were out Sunday due to injuries. The biggest name absent from the lineup was Jackie Bruno, who is the Minutewomen’s offensive leader and scored six goals last year.

UMass’ defense kept the team in the game Sunday as the Scarlet Knights recorded 19 shots but only six on goal.

Matz said he was impressed with the defense’s ability to minimize Rutgers’ quality shot opportunities and views it as a positive sign moving forward.

Leading the Minutewomen’s defense from the backend, Babin impressed Matz behind a five-save performance. The Ellicott City, Maryland native has now started the last two games in goal with redshirt junior Danielle Kriscenski out with an injury.

“Cassidy made some outstanding saves especially on some of their corner kicks,” Matz said. “She has stepped in and really made an impact for the team. You could see in her eyes that she was focused today and that showed in her play.”

Rutgers is the best opponent the Minutewomen will see throughout the year according to Matz. He added he was very impressed with how his shorthanded team played tough against the No. 24 team in the nation.

“We were embarrassed in ourselves after the game (against) Syracuse,” Matz said, alluding to the 6-0 shutout loss UMass suffered in its season opener.

“Today was a statement game for us. We needed to show what we can do and how we plan on playing this season. Our kids played their hearts out today and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Going forward, the team has one main goal according to Matz: getting healthy and keeping the momentum going that they gained in Sunday’s close defeat.

Next up for UMass is a game against Central Connecticut Friday, Sept. 4 as a part of the Yale Classic. The game is set to start at 5 p.m. in New Haven, Connecticut.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected]