Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s soccer returns home with hopes for better results

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Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian

(Makoto Yabusaki/Daily Collegian)

It could be the natural grass surface of Rudd Field. It could be the cold autumn afternoons in Amherst. Whichever it is, something makes the Massachusetts women’s soccer team a completely different team at home.

For the second straight year, the Minutewomen (4-5-3, 1-2-1 Atlantic 10) have seen significantly better results at home than they have on the road.

UMass is 4-1-1 at home and 0-4-1 on the road, while having a tie on a neutral field against Central Connecticut during the Yale Classic in early September.

Luckily for the Minutewomen, their next two games are at home, with the first coming against Davidson (5-8, 1-3 A-10) Thursday afternoon.

UMass coach Ed Matz said he hopes the home field advantage will give his team the edge against the Wildcats. He admitted that the team has been more comfortable so far playing on Rudd Field.

“Going into all of our games we hope to be confident, but playing at Rudd definitely gives us an extra boost,” Matz said. “The girls hearing their music before games and being around a familiar crowd definitely helps them feel more comfortable. We’ve had a lot of success at home, so I am hoping that continues.”

Despite their struggles on the road, the team has been competitive in every game. In each of their four losses away from Amherst this season, they have lost by a single goal.

Matz stressed the ability to put their opponent under pressure as one of the major keys to the game for Thursday.

“We need to make sure we force the issue on both sides of the ball,” he said. “As a coach, I want to be the team being the one’s acting, not reacting. If we are able to force them to make decisions they don’t want to make, we should be fine.”

Davidson is coming off its first win in A-10 play, beating Duquesne 1-0 last Sunday. The Wildcats are led offensively by junior forward Ashley Finkle, who has scored five goals and recorded 23 shots in 11 games this season. The Minutewomen will also need to be wary of senior midfielder Vicky Bruce, who has two goals, while her nine assists this year lead the A-10. She has recorded 52 shots with 19 shots on goal, both of which are best on the team.

Matz understands the need to slow down these offensive threats.

“There are definitely a few players on Davidson that are able to generate a lot of chances,” he said. “We just need to hope our team defense neutralizes their attack in the game. We want them to be more concerned about our offense than we are of theirs.”

Davidson will be faced with the challenge of getting past UMass goalkeeper Cassidy Babin. Despite giving up five goals in the last three games, the sophomore still owns the best goals against average in the A-10 at 0.67 per game.

Thursday’s kickoff is set for a 3:30 p.m. start.

UMass takes on Rhode Island Sunday

The second game of the Minutewomen’s two-game home stand will take place this Sunday when they take on conference foe Rhode Island.

The matchup will be UMass’ annual Breast Cancer Awareness game.

Every October, the Minutewomen hold a “Think Pink” game to help raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The team will wear pink and have pink ribbons and field lines around Rudd Field.

The Rams (3-9-1, 0-4 A-10) are currently in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. They will travel to St. Bonaventure for a game Thursday before taking on UMass.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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

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