While the Massachusetts women's soccer team entered this season with speculation surrounding a young roster, it still had one assurance in its back pocket: defense.
After giving up four goals in their season-opening loss against Siena, the Minutewomen have tightened up on the defensive side of the ball, allowing only four goals in their following four games.
While the offense is undergoing a transition period without its leading scorer from last year, Moa Mattsson, head coach Ed Matz believes that his defense will continue to shoulder the load.
"Ever since our first game of the year, our defense has played pretty solidly," Matz said after his team's win against New Hampshire.
In three of its last four games, UMass has allowed only one goal at most. The other result was a 2-0 loss to Army. The Minutewomen almost came away with back-to-back road game shutouts this past weekend, but they were unable to hold onto their 1-0 lead against Providence with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation.
One of the reasons for the defense's success has been the familiarity between the four returning starters, led by senior Lauren Skesavage, who said before the season began that she expected a lot out of her unit.
Another reason that cannot be overlooked is the productive play from redshirt freshman goalkeeper Danielle Kriscenski.
Kriscenski was just named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week this past Monday after putting up an impressive 1-0-1 record over the weekend. The freshman posted her first shutout victory over UNH on Sunday, while swatting away a career-high eight shots against the Friars on Friday.
"I was always talking to my defense," Kriscenski said. "I came off strong with my line and if something did happen, I just brushed it off my shoulder and kept going."