Coming into Thursday’s matchup against Davidson College, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team will be one player short, as junior defender Paige Kozlowski was seen on crutches at practice Wednesday after spraining her ankle that same day.
In the first eight games of the season, Kozlowski has started every game thus far for the University of Massachusetts (3-4-1).
Coach Ed Matz does not seem to be too concerned about who starts in the Minutewomen’s battle with the Wildcats (2-7).
“We’ll see how it goes… see who’s playing well,” Matz said. “For me it doesn’t matter who starts, I know people put a lot of emphasis in that, but the game’s 90 minutes long. If you look at the box scores, people are playing 40-60 minutes, I know people like to run out when the starting lineup is called, but to me it doesn’t matter if you get your minutes in the middle of the game, the end of the game or the start of the game.”
UMass enters the contest following a dramatic 1-0 win over Ivy League foe Yale, Sept. 17.
Davidson on the other hand, visits Amherst in third-to-last place among Atlantic 10 teams, under head coach Adam Denton.
Denton was named coach of the Wildcats in December of 2016 after spending the 2016 season as associate head coach.
Davidson is still looking for its first win away from home, currently 0-4 on the road this season.
“Well, Davidson has a new coach so we don’t quite know their tendencies that were present in past years,” Matz said. “They look very organized, a little like us. They possess the ball well and they go to goal. They’re pretty dangerous [within 18 feet]; they’re a dangerous team.”
While conference play generates excitement and anticipation from both fans and players alike, Matz is trying to cool down the excitement.
“It always is going to be different because each game is worth points now and you need so many points to get to the tournament, which is obviously our goal, but we are trying to look at it one game at a time,” Matz said. “We’re just looking at Davidson and after that we’re not going to look at our results from Davidson, we’re going to look at Fordham.”
“It’s just one game at a time, we’re not going to try to look beyond or ahead of ourselves, we’re just going to try to stay in the moment,” he said.
Staying in the moment can be difficult for any team, but Matz said that they are not going to place as much of an emphasis on the amount of games left needed to win the conference, or how many games needed to win to make it to the A-10 tournament this season.
In order to determine which players brought the most to the table, Matz played everyone, with the exception of the backup goalkeepers, on his bench throughout the non-conference schedule. Matz also juggled around the lineup card, trying to figure out who would make up his starting group.
When asked if the experimentation would continue, Matz didn’t give a concrete answer.
“Good question, I don’t know,” Matz said. “It’s all about the moment, it’s all about the temperature, and it’s all about how the game’s going. I don’t think we’ll go as deep, but you know we’ve been successful the last five games, so who knows.”
Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.