UMass women’s soccer prepares for rematch of last year’s A-10 quarterfinals against La Salle

By Adam Aucoin

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The last time the Massachusetts women’s soccer team took on La Salle, it walked off the field in defeat after a 3-0 loss in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals last year.

UMass (3-3-2) now has its chance for revenge Thursday as the Explorers (3-4-2) visit Amherst in what will be the first A-10 conference matchup for both teams.

The Minutewomen last defeated La Salle during the 2011 season, when they went 14-5-2 and beat the Explorers 1-0 in the semifinal of the conference tournament.

Only five current players were on the team at that time.

“La Salle has eliminated us a lot over the years,” coach Ed Matz said. “It will definitely be motivation for the seniors to want to beat them. If anyone is in need of any motivation, this is it.”

“It was a tough loss last year,” senior defender Madison Smith added. “There will be a lot of emotion because of that and that will give us all the motivation we need to come out strong Thursday.”

UMass enters this game riding a three-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 6-0 in that span.

“We’ve been reinforcing good things we’ve seen on the field and fixing up the little things that we need improvement on,” Matz said. “I’m glad we’re on a streak, but with conference play, it’s a new season, so we can’t get complacent.”

La Salle has had an up-and-down season and is currently on a two-game losing streak. It is coming off a season where they went 14-6-2 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

This season the Explorers are going into this one without their all-time leading goal scorer Kelsey Haycook, who scored 60 goals during her career, 20 of which came in 2014.

Despite the loss of Haycook, La Salle has a few players who have stepped up offensively this season. Senior Fia Jonsson from Sweden has three goals for the team, while junior forward Marykate Bateman has tallied two goals of her own.

“La Salle lost several players, but their tendencies are still the same,” Matz said. “They are very well coached too, so you know they will be ready to play Thursday, no matter who is on the field.”

In practice this week, Matz stressed putting pressure on the midfielders as being a major focus for the game. He is looking for his players to limit the space the Explorers have to operate to reduce scoring chances.

Even if the defense has trouble stopping La Salle’s offensive attack, they have arguably the best goalkeeper in the conference behind them to cover up any mistakes.

Cassidy Babin continues to impress for the Minutewomen in goal. The sophomore currently sits ninth in the nation in goals against average, with a 0.40 average. Babin has not allowed a goal in the last 352 minutes and 58 seconds, dating back to the Yale match on Sept. 6.

With A-10 play finally here, Matz and the team are very confident they will have success in conference play.

“When you have a group of seniors like we do, you always have confidence that you’re team is going to succeed,” Matz said. “The team is going in the right direction and we’re hitting our stride right in time for conference play. From this point on, it’s a ten-game season and we will do everything we can to get into the A-10 tournament.”

“This is where it really counts,” Smith added. “If you do well now, that will only improve your chances to go far in the conference tournament.”

Thursday’s game starts at 4 p.m. at Rudd Field.


Adam Aucoin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @aaucoin34.