UMass women’s soccer wins second straight behind early goal Thursday

By Tom Mulherin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

After starting the 2015 season winless through five games, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team has picked up two consecutive victories at home. In Thursday’s 1-0 win over Brown, freshman Erin Doster played hero for the Minutewomen with the game’s lone goal.

Just 17 minutes into the match, Doster found the back of the net after bobbing and weaving her way through defenders down the field and nailing the shot across her body. With the unassisted tally serving as the eventual game-winner against the Bears (2-3), the first-year player earned recognition from UMass coach Ed Matz.

“Doster created a great goal,” he said. “She’s a player that in practice, she scores those goals all the time. When she scored that goal, her confidence picked up and she had a tremendous second half. It picked the whole team up because she’s missed a couple of other easier ones and now she scored that great one. If it’s a game-winner, we’ll take it.”

Ever since offensive leaders Jackie Bruno and Natalie Perussault suffered season-ending injuries, Doster has stepped into a starting role for the Minutewomen. Despite barely missing out on previous goal opportunities since the promotion, she was finally rewarded with her first collegiate goal Thursday on the 10th shot she’s taken this season.

It doesn’t hurt that the milestone was the eventual deciding goal in a win for the Minutewomen (2-3-2).

“I saw a lot of open space, kind of saw the opportunity and I took it,” she said on the goal. “It felt great. I don’t think I’ve ever had a team be so excited for me to score before. It’s such a simple thing but they just all went crazy and it was great. It was such a good feeling.”

UMass’ offense has played better of late – the Minutewomen have scored five goals in their last five games after being shut out in the first three matchups – and continued its success on Thursday.

The Minutewomen started off the game with an aggressive attack that led to a 10-to-3 shot advantgae in the first half, including Doster’s early goal. Matz said he owes the newfound offensive comfortability to a recent surge of better teamwork.

“There’s no one single star on our team, we all work together and it’s unit by unit,” he said. “The kids understand that and they buy into it. I think it’s a great system because they know that we need them every single game, they know that they can’t rely on someone else to carry us and they know they have to come down and play their best.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Minutewomen allowed just four shots on goal, leading to UMass’ third shutout in seven games and second straight.

Sophomore goalkeeper Cassidy Babin has led this defensive charge and hasn’t allowed more than one goal in a game all season. In front of Babin, senior co-captains Rebekka Sverrisdóttir and Georgia Gibson has led a unit that has consistently stymied opposing offenses.

“We were able to score a goal early on and then we were able to defend for the rest of the game,” Gibson said Thursday. “It’s what we do best, and we played to the end.”

While Matz admires the game-winning goal that came from Doster, he added that defensive consistency has been present all season long.

“I’ve been real impressed with our defense since the very first game,” he said. “Our defense allows us the opportunity to win every game, to be in every game. This was a tough game, but the defense played very well.”

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]