UMass women’s soccer travels to New York to take on Fordham Thursday

Fordham enters winners of six straight

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UMass women’s soccer travels to New York to take on Fordham Thursday

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

By Noah Bortle, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s soccer team puts its eight-game win streak on the line against Atlantic 10 opponent Fordham on Thursday.

With first place in the conference hanging in the balance, UMass (9-2-0, 4-0 A-10) takes on a Ram team (7-5-0, 4-0 A-10) that has won its last six games. The two teams sit tied atop the A-10 standings, making the game of paramount importance for the Minutewomen.

“I think the game will come down to two teams that are confident in themselves and who has better attention to details,” UMass coach Jason Dowiak said. “The biggest reason for our success has been the attention to the details and tuning in as much as we can.”

Thursday’s game features not only two of the top A-10 teams so far, but two teams that are outperforming their preseason expectations. UMass was picked to finish 10th by the coaches in the preseason, while Fordham was just ahead, expected to finish ninth.

“They’re just all confident right now,” Dowiak said of Fordham. “I think it really comes down to us doing our job better than them, but they’re a good team and everybody has an ability to make an impact on the game so we’re just trying to tighten the screws on our own side.”

Fordham’s confidence stems from its recent stretch of play. During its win streak, the Rams have surrendered just one goal.

At the back of their defense stands Kelly LaMorte, the goalkeeper who has recorded six shutouts in the Rams’ 12 games thus far, allowing 0.81 goals per game.

Fordham could be considered a one-dimensional team, having an average offense in most categories, as the Rams rank just ninth in goals per game.

Though average overall in the attacking third, Fordham boasts two strong forwards on their roster. For the Minutewomen to come out on top, they will have to slow down the two-headed attack of Margaret Roughley and Clara Gastaldi. The pair have scored seven of the team’s 16 goals this year.

The two will have to match up with the UMass defense, which has been nearly unbreakable, conceding only five goals in 11 games and only one in four conference games.

“They’re such a great unit,” Dowiak said. “The relationship between all the players that play in the back and our goalkeeper it’s really just a building process, the more that they work together and talk together and use Peyton [Ryan] behind them the more confident they get.”

Ryan has been vital to the Minutewomen’s defensive success this season. The senior has a 0.857 save percentage to go with her 0.49 goals against average, best in the A-10. Ryan’s performances include seven shutouts in 11 games.

The Minutewomen will certainly watch film of their opponents before Thursday’s matchup, but Dowiak says that he does not anticipate changing their possession-heavy style of play much to beat the Rams.

“At the end of the day, we don’t change much, we just reemphasize different ideas that we feel like we’ve been successful with already,” Dowiak said.

Both teams put their perfect A-10 records on the line, hoping to stay on top of the standings early in the conference schedule.

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday at Jack Coffey Field.

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.