UMass women’s soccer pushes its win streak to three

By Adam Aucoin

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Celebration after Alyssa Fratarcangeli's goal. Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Celebration after Alyssa Fratarcangeli’s goal. Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

There’s no place like home for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team, which has followed up an 0-2-2 road trip with a three-game winning streak at Rudd Field.

UMass continued its success at home with another strong defensive performance Sunday, beating in-state rival Harvard 2-0.

Minutemen (3-3-2) coach Ed Matz said he realizes the impact of playing strong at home before playing five of the team’s last eight games on the road against conference opponents.

“It’s something we talked about coming into the season,” Matz said. “If you win your home games there’s a good chance you’ll be in postseason play in the Atlantic 10. I think our good play here can also be credited to how we have matured as a team.”

UMass scored early in Sunday’s game and never trailed.

Junior Alyssa Fratarcangeli first put the Minutewomen on the scoreboard after getting her foot on a ball in the box to score her first goal of the season and the second of her career. Daniela Alvarez and Julia Weithofer assisted on the play.

“It all happened so fast, it was kind of a blur,” Fratarcangeli said. “The ball came in and I saw an opportunity. I barely got my foot on it and I was ecstatic when it went in the back of the net.”

Junior forward Megan Burke tallied the game’s other goal just 55 seconds later for the Minutewomen, scoring her second goal of the season. Freshman forward Erin Doster assisted on the play.

Harvard (2-5-1) headed into Sunday’s game coming off a 2-1 overtime win against New Hampshire last Thursday.

Matz said leading into Sunday’s game that Harvard’s Margaret Purce, who scored for the Crimson against UNH, was one player the Minutemen specifically focused on limiting.

Purce leads Harvard with two goals and 38 shots this season, but UMass contained the junior and limited her to four shots, only one of which was on goal and was saved by Minutewomen goalkeeper Cassidy Babin.

Babin posted her fourth shutout this season with three saves on the day. The sophomore has not given up a goal in her last 352 minutes and 58 seconds – dating back to the eighth minute of UMass’ 1-0 loss to Yale Sept. 6.

The Minutewomen’s defense has been the backbone for UMass so far in 2015 and has kept them in games, even when they were struggling to score early in the season.

Minutewomen captain Rebekka Sverrisdóttir is the leader of the backline and recognized the importance of the team’s defense in the midst of a winning streak.

“Defense is really important not only for the back four, but for the whole team,” Sverrisdóttir said. “When the whole team plays together, we are a great defending team and that was what led us to the win (Sunday).”

Matz said the Minutewomen’s defense is the reason their offense has improved in this recent stretch.

“We’re really confident right now that it will be extremely hard to score on us,” he said. “The defense that our forwards play and our midfielder plays are important to us as well. We continue to preach team defense and it seems to be working right now.”

Matz added: “It’s players getting comfortable and our freshman getting settled in. These things have really helped our confidence on the field.”

Sunday’s win marked the conclusion of non-conference play for the Minutewomen, who begin their A-10 schedule next Thursday.

“Getting a win (Sunday) was huge,” Fratarcangeli said. “This game gives us a lot of momentum going into conference play.”

UMass opens its A-10 schedule against La Salle Oct. 1.

 Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected].