Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s soccer seeks elusive first win against Bryant

By Adam Aucoin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

In its 1-0 loss versus No. 20 Rutgers on Aug. 30, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team suffered a controversial defeat due to a missed offsides call on the game-winning goal. On Sept. 6, the Minutewomen had two goals waved off in a 1-0 loss to Yale.

On Thursday afternoon, UMass (0-3-2) will look to turn its luck around at home against Bryant, as the Minutewomen attempt to earn their first victory of the season.

UMass head coach Ed Matz is not worried at all about his team’s early struggles.

“After that opening day loss to Syracuse, we have played well and competed in every game since,” Matz said. “We had a tough schedule early, and we are a few different bounces and breaks away from a better record right now.”

The Bulldogs (1-4) have gotten off to a similar start this season, but come to Amherst in wake of a 3-1 win against Fairfield on Sunday.

For Matz, there isn’t one specific player on Bryant the team is focusing on. Instead, he has been working with his team to focus on the Bulldogs formations and how to stop them from generating scoring opportunities.

Defensively, UMass has been a strong unit that has kept them in every game of the season. Led by preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference defender Rebekka Sverrisdottir, the Minutewomen back line has only given up three goals in the last five contests.

While there is still room to improve, Matz has been impressed by what his defense has shown early on.

“Our defense has played really well so far, but the thing I have been preaching to the team this week is team defense,” Matz said. “If all 10 field players are working together and in the same mindset of team defense, it makes the job of our goalkeeper much easier.”

UMass sophomore goalkeeper Cassidy Babin has been a big part of the UMass defense, recording a 0.68 goals against average through the first six games.

“We need to work as a unit on the field,” she said. “If we all are working together, it takes a lot of pressure off the backline and me, and that will only help us get better results in the future.”

Return to Rudd

The last time the Minutewomen played a game at Rudd Field, the result was a 6-0 blowout loss against Syracuse on Aug. 21.

Since then, Matz acknowledged there has been clear improvement, but UMass is still anxious to get back on home soil and produce better results.

“I think we have a lot to prove to the home fans,” Matz said. “The last time we were on our home turf the result was not what we wanted, so we want to be able to show (them) what type of team we truly are.”

Although the Minutewomen have run into a recent spell of injuries, the team is confident they can still be successful despite these setbacks.

“We just need to continue to build on what we have done this season,” Babin said. “This team is very good and I have confidence in our ability. It all comes down to finishing our chances.”

Matz is looking for his team to come out with a lot of energy in the opening minutes against the Bulldogs.

“Clearly we are not happy that we haven’t been able to get a result out of our hard work these past few weeks,” he said. “We have to make sure we keep pushing though. That hard work will be what brings us success in the end.”

The game is set to kick off at  4 p.m.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected]

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