UMass women’s soccer hoping for improved results on Thursday at George Mason

By Liam Flaherty

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

After a four-goal loss to La Salle at home over the weekend, the Massachusetts women’s soccer team will set its sights on a bounce back performance Thursday when it travels to take on George Mason.

According to coach Ed Matz, Sunday’s performance by UMass, falling 6-2 to the undefeated Explorers, is a match of the past. The time to get points and make a move in the standings before the start of the Atlantic 10 playoffs is now.

“We’ve moved on from it, it was a match that we don’t feel we played to our potential,” Matz said. “But at the end of the day, we lost three points. Now we’re trying to move on and just focus on George Mason.”

Currently, the Minutewomen (6-6-2, 3-2-1 A-10) are tied for fifth in the A-10 standings with the Patriots (6-8-1, 3-2-1 A-10).

Four conference matchups separate UMass from the start of the A-10 playoffs, which means Thursday’s will be an extremely important one. Following George Mason, the Minutewomen will take on Duquesne and Saint Louis, two teams that precede them in the current standings and will surely be tough to grab points from.

With these tough matchups looming to round out the conference schedule, Matz and his squad understand the need to leave Virginia with a victory, but are making an effort to stick to the one game at a time mentality.

“I think the team as a whole understands the urgency and pressure but it’s something we’re not trying to talk about,” Matz said. “We’re just trying to process it as a normal game and see it as another opportunity to get three points. We want to play at our best and I don’t think we need to remind the players of those things.”

At practice in preparation for Thursday’s match, Matz emphasized the Minutewomen’s work on maintaining possession of the ball and implementing points from practice in game scenarios.

“We worked on 50/50 balls in the midfield and a little bit of finishing. [Wednesday] we’re gonna be down at GM and get ready for some things that we scouted on,” he said.

“We’re trying to take pressure off our kids, it’s a young team,” Matz continued. “We’re just trying to focus on doing things that we worked on in practice, staying consistent and focused and just playing within ourselves. That’s what we’re concentrating on and believe if we can do those things, good things will happen.”

In just three matches away from Rudd Field in 2017, UMass is undefeated, something it will look to continue on Thursday in Virginia.

According to Matz, after dropping a disappointing match to snap its unbeaten streak, now is the perfect time for the Minutewomen to set out on their second road trip of the season.

“We’ve done well on the road this year so we’re excited to get [back],” Matz said. “They have a nice facility and it’s a night game so it’ll be good to get together as a team, away from any distractions and concentrate on things that we feel will help us succeed.”

In the loss to La Salle, UMass goalkeeper Cassidy Babin established two personal firsts on the season.

After starting in net and playing through the entire match for the previous thirteen, Babin was pulled from Sunday’s through just 55 minutes.

In those minutes, Babin let four goals into the net, a season-high for the senior. Peyton Ryan, a junior, came in and made four saves in the remainder of the match, letting in two goals of her own.

According to Matz, “[Babin] will be the first one to admit that she didn’t play up to her potential, but she’s won some games for us this year. She had a good practice [Tuesday] and hopefully she has a good practice [Wednesday].”

When asked who will get the start in net when it comes time against George Mason, “We’ll decide on Thursday,” Matz said.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Liam Flaherty can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_LiamFlaherty.