Balanced offense leads UMass women’s soccer for second straight game

By Jamie Cushman

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Not even the semester’s first snowfall could cool down the red-hot Massachusetts women’s soccer’s offense Sunday afternoon at Rudd Field.

After four different players scored goals Thursday against Davidson, the Minutewomen (6-5-3, 3-2-1 Atlantic 10) repeated the same feat Sunday against Rhode Island (3-11-1, 0-6 A-10) in a 4-2 victory.

“Our offense the last two games has been pretty good,” UMass coach Ed Matz said. “It’s just a lot of production from a lot of different people. A lot of kids making good committed runs, a lot of good crosses and some pretty good finishing.”

After tallying just one goal in two games last week, freshman Erin Doster said the team used its two poor performances as motivation for this week’s games.

“We were really disappointed with how we played last week at GW and George Mason,” Doster said. “So we had a lot of pent up frustration and I think we just used that to have a really good week of practice coming into these games and that lead to us playing really well this week.”

Doster scored one of UMass’ four goals along with Julia Weithofer, Laura Johns and Jackie Bruno.

One area the Minutewomen really succeeded in Sunday was with their set piece play, where UMass chipped in two goals off corner kicks. In addition to good finishes, Matz highlighted the role of the cross for the two goals.

“The services were good today by the kids taking the corners, especially in the first half when we were hitting into the wind a little bit,” Matz said.

The team’s first set piece goal came off a corner in the 37th minute. The cross deflected outside of the box to wide-open Johns, who took advantage and secured her first goal of the season.

A corner kick produced a goal again in the 61st minute when Bruno headed home a cross from junior Megan Burke for her second goal of the year.

The most impressive aspect of the team’s offense is the extreme balance and its lack of a reliance on one star player. The Minutewomen got a single goal from eight different players in the team’s two wins this week.

This balanced offensive attack is something that Matz said he envisioned before the season even started.

“The very first day of preseason when I met with the girls in the classroom, I told them that I don’t foresee this being a team where someone’s going to get seven, eight goals,” Matz said. “I just see it has a team that a lot of people can score on a lot of different days and I see a lot of kids having three, four, five goals.”

He added: “And to me, it’s more important to have a lot of kids with a lot of goals than just one person that we got to rely on every game. To coach against us, you don’t know who’s going to score, you can’t key on one person.”

Doster echoed many of her coach’s sentiments about the balance of the Minutewomen’s offensive scheme.

“I think it just means that anyone on this team can score,” Doster said. “What coach likes to pride us on is that we don’t have that one player that people on the other team will just mark, and then that’s it, we’re toast.”

Doster later added with a smile that the team-based attack rather than individual-based attack fits well in the game of soccer.

“That is a good thing to have in a team. It is a team sport.”

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]