UMass finds itself alive in the Atlantic 10 despite poor road performances this season

By Tom Mulherin

Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian
Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian

The past week wasn’t very kind to the Massachusetts women’s soccer team.

After losing consecutive Atlantic-10 games over the weekend, UMass (4-5-3, 1-2-1 A-10) comes home sitting at a lowly ninth place in the conference standings entering Thursday’s upcoming match against Davidson. With both of those losses coming on the road, the Minutewomen are now winless in six games away from Rudd Field, and have fallen back to early season tendencies with just one goal in those two games.

But in no way, shape or form do those poor road outcomes condemn the rest of the girls’ season.

Despite having an occasionally anemic offense, the team always seems to be in games because of dominant defensive play coming from the unit as a whole. In fact, UMass hasn’t lost a game by more than one goal since its season opener against Syracuse, a 6-0 loss on Aug. 21, and have out-shot opponents in the majority of their contests. It is because of those neck-and-neck matches that head coach Ed Matz isn’t left too concerned with the team’s performances moving forward, and says he expects to win every game.

“Every single game we’ve played all year long has been determined by one goal,” Matz said. “Everything has just been very close. It’s just going to come down to one or two plays a game, and we got to be prepared for that.”

Luckily for UMass, its road woes haven’t been any different from those of other teams. In the 20 total intra-league games played in the A-10, road teams have posted a 9-18-1 record. While the Minutewomen haven’t won a conference game on the road yet, they are only two points down in the standings from La Salle for a conference tournament-eligible rank – each win counts for three points in the standings.

The rest of the teams in the A-10 are well within reach too, especially because of a conference-wide struggle in away games. With two winnable games against Davidson (5-8, 1-3 A-10) and Rhode Island (3-9-1, 0-4 A-10) coming this weekend at home for UMass, the team could propel itself all the way to as high as third place with two wins barring the results of other games. Such a feat is definitely a possibility too, as Matz’s group is 4-1-1 at home this season with a plus-seven goal differential in their past five matches.

“Our primary goal is to get six points this weekend,” Matz said. “It’s something we got to do, especially with the way the A-10 is shaping up this year. It’s a year where there is so much parody in the A-10, and everything is so even that it’s just becoming more and more important to get points when you’re at home.”

Matz feels that the seniors are the players that are going to make the largest difference in separating themselves from the bottom of the pack in the A-10.

“All of our seniors know they have at the least, six games left in their career,” he said. “If they want to make it seven, then they got to step up and be leaders and get people to follow them … and they’ve been leaders from day one”

“They always (play a vital role in games),” he continued. “They’re the kids that always give the extra effort. They’re the kids that are very vocal, they’re very emotional. They all have those leadership characteristics, and are always so determined and committed kids.”

Thursday’s game against Davison starts at 4 p.m. at Rudd Field, and the matchup against Rhode Island is on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]