AMHERST, Mass. -
Coming off its first victory of 2012, the UMass women's soccer team returns to Rudd this Sunday, Aug. 26 to play host to UAlbany at 1 p.m. The match vs. the Great Danes (0-0-1) is the first of two in a row for the Minutewomen (1-1-0) in Amherst before hitting the road for three straight.
UAlbany enters Sunday's match with the Minutewomen at 0-0-1 on the year after playing to a 1-1 draw with Syracuse on Friday in the Great Danes' season opener. Regina Nowicki helped UAlbany earn the tie with her goal in the 73rd minute.
In 2011, Great Danes ended the season 7-1-1 in their final nine matches and made their first-ever trip to the America East championship game.
Against The Great Danes
UMass is 4-2-0 all-time against UAlbany, a series that began in 1999.
The teams last met in Albany, N.Y. on Sept. 6, 2010. Despite the Minutewomen out-shooting the Great Danes 17-9, UAlbany came away with a 1-0 win.
Last Time Out
UMass picked up its first win of 2012 this past Wednesday, 3-2 on the road at Bryant.
Freshman Jen Coppola scored her first collegiate goal, while sophomore Moa Mattsson chipped in two, including the game-winner, for her first career multi-goal game.
Mattsson, who has already equaled her 2011 points total of six, is the current Atlantic 10 leader in goals per-game (1.50) with three in two matches.
Sophomore Alyssa D'Arcy logged her first career helper, assisting on Mattsson's game winner.
Freshman Breanna Robinson made her collegiate debut as a reserve in the second half.
For a second straight game, Stephanie Gordon set a career high in saves, smashing her previous mark of 11 with 16 vs. the Bulldogs.
Youth Is Served
Eight of UMass' 11 starters against UCLA in the season opener were either first or second-year players for the Minutewomen. Four of the eight--Rebecca Sverrisdóttir, Madison Smith, Jen Coppola and Georgia Gibson--are true freshmen.
Freshman Jackie Bruno also saw her first collegiate action, playing 14 minutes as a reserve.
A Formidable Schedule
In its first seven matches to open the 2012 season, UMass will face five teams that either earned rankings or received votes in the NSCAA Preseason Poll.
The Minutewomen opened up with #6 UCLA and will host (RV) Harvard on Aug. 31.
UMass heads to Winston-Salem the weekend of Sept. 7-9 to play Preseason-ranked #3 Wake Forest and #22 Virginia Tech before traveling to #23 Boston University on Sept. 14.
Cota, enters her final year at UMass coming off her best season of her career to-date. In 2011, Cota posted a record of 12-4-1 with 10 shutouts, good for sixth in program history for shutouts in a single season and most by a individual since Briana Scurry in 1993. She logged a 0.82 goals-against average and a .874 save percentage on her way to NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region, All-New England and All-Atlantic 10 recognitions.
Currently, Cota is sixth all-time in program history with 16 career shutouts, three away from tying Kelly Tuller (1978-80). She ranks sixth in career saves, as well, with 235.
After winning two championships at Northeastern (a CAA tournament title in 2008 and a regular season crown in 2009, Stephanie Gordon saw action in five games in net, drawing four starts in her first season with the Minutewomen in 2011. She posted a record of 2-1-1, including one shutout, and made nine saves in her UMass debut, a 2-1 triumph over New Hampshire. Gordon left Northeastern as the program's career leader in goals-against average (1.09) and earned 2009 All-CAA Second Team and 2008 CAA All-Tournament Team recognition.
In the 2-1 loss to #6 UCLA, Gordon matched her career high with 11 saves, a mark she had previously set against Hofstra while at Northeastern on Oct. 31, 2009.
She bested that career high in the following match, stopping 16 shots at Bryant.
Deep On Defense
Despite graduating 2011 all-region defender Meghan Collins, UMass returns a bulk of talent on defense, some who will see action in the midfield this season.
The Minutewomen bring back five defenders who played in 18 or more games last season.
Among those five, co-captains Jess Howe and Lauren Skesavage were two of five UMass players who started all 21 games last fall. Howe has missed just two matches in her three-plus collegiate seasons for a total of 58 career starts. Skesavage has played and stared 41 of 42 possible matches in her career thus far with the Minutewomen.
As a team, UMass posted 11 shutouts in 2011, including five consecutive, for the most clean sheets by a Minutewomen squad since 1997.
UMass' group of seven sophomores features four players who started 11+ games and appeared in 17 or more of the team's 21 contests last season as freshmen.
Returning leading scorer Tori Sousa posted 12 points as a freshman on four goals and four assists, tying for the team lead in helpers. Sousa posted a team-high nine points in A-10 play (3g, 3a, 2 gwg) last season en route to Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors.
Classmate Moa Mattsson is second to Sousa among scorers returning with six points (1g, 4a) as a rookie in 2011. Mattsson, who started all 21 matches last fall, collected multiple postseason accolades, including NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region, Atlantic 10 All-Conference and Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors.
The Matz Era At UMass
UMass is 23-17-2 (.571) over head coach Ed Matz' first two-plus seasons, including a record of 11-6-1 (.639) in Atlantic 10 matches and a trip to the A-10 final in 2011.
In just two year's time, the squad jumped over 200 spots in the RPI, finishing 2011 with a #46 ranking after concluding the 2009 season at #257.
Under his direction, UMass players have earned nine All-Atlantic 10 honors, five all-region accolades and three All-New England selections.
Matz is 122-108 -27 all-time as a women's head coach, with an overall record (men & women) of 205-182-43.
Home Sweet Home
UMass is 226-70-12 (.806) all-time at home with a 48-39-3 (.550) mark at Rudd Field.
The Minutewomen posted an 8-2-1 home record in 2011, including eight shutouts and a victory over #20 Boston University.
UMass will be back in action at home on Friday, Aug. 31, opening a UMass-Harvard soccer doubleheader at 1:30 p.m. on Rudd Field. The men's match will follow at 4 p.m.