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UMass women’s soccer falls to Dayton in the final match of the season

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Megan Burke dribbles the ball during Sunday's game against VCU Rams at Rudd Field. Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

Megan Burke dribbles the ball during Sunday’s game against VCU Rams at Rudd Field. (Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

A season filled with tight competition and frequent disappointment followed both of those themes when the Massachusetts women’o soccer season came to an end this Sunday.

In the last regular season game of 2016, the Minutewomen (3-11-3, 1-7-2 Atlantic 10) fell to Dayton (6-9-3, 4-4-2 A-10) 3-1 on Sunday afternoon in Ohio.

In 12th place in the A-10 conference heading into the game, the result of the UMass season had already been decided. However, the opportunity to spoil the season for Dayton, who needed a win to secure a spot in the conference tournament, provided plenty of fire for the contest.

“I think we came into Dayton with the right moral and the right attitude,” Coach Ed Matz said.   “Unfortunately I think that we were trying to do too much and play too much as individuals in the first 15 minutes of the game or so and that led to Daytonsa (first) goal; we were trying to do too much instead of trusting our teammates.”

The Flyers scored the first goal of the afternoon less than two minutes into the game, and slotted home another before halftime to put the game at 2-0. UMass would score first in the second period to make it interesting, but the hole was too deep.

“I thought we played really well in the second half, made it 2-1, and I was proud of how the team was playing and how they responded in the second half,” Matz said.

The loss drops UMass to 1-7-2 in conference play this season, third to last in the Atlantic 10. This result piles on top of a disappointing week that opened with the Minutewomen still having an outside chance at the conference’s post season tournament.

“Certainly with St. Josephs we were totally pumped up, then we found ourselves in a game that we thought should have been ended at halftime due to the conditions…to have a game cut short when we were trying to get the equalizer against St. Joes, that really ended our season right there; it was just so abrupt,” said Matz.

Although the Minutewomen’s season was essentially over before Sunday’u match began, there was no lack of motivation for UMass. The Minutewomen are graduating five seniors at the end of this year, and had the opportunity to make those athletes’ last game in uniform be one in which they knocked a conference rival our of postseason contention.

“Our mindset was to do our best to make sure that our seniors go out on a high note and to do our best to prevent Dayton from getting into the A-10’s,” said Matz.

However similar to much of the season, UMass competed strongly for much of the game’s action, yet fell short of getting a positive outcome.

Situational performances like this are things that Matz looks to target this offseason to improve, as he believes the squad is very close to being a strong contender in the A-10.

“We were in the top third of the A-10 in defending and we return three out of our four defenders, so those good things are all there and a lot of the kids we have coming in next year are forwards and finishers,” he said. “So I think a lot of the spring will be focused on building up the forward’s confidence and working on their finishing.”

While a look back at the season does display clear areas where improvement is necessary, and being on the outside looking in on the conference tournament is disappointing, every game the Minutewomen played was tightly contested, and the outlook moving forward isn’t as dire as a three win season would suggest.

“We felt like we competed in every single game and most games we just could not get over the hump, we made a mistake that lead to an opportunity for our opponents who seemed to capitalize. We just could not get over the hump and it kind of snow balled a little bit,” Matz concluded.

The Minutewomen look to re-group and welcome in upcoming talent, when the spring season kicks off next semester.

Chris Marino can be reached at [email protected]

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