The University of Rhode Island women’s soccer team rebounded from their first loss in over a month by defeating the University of Massachusetts 1-0 at the URI Soccer Complex on Saturday night.
The Rams improve their record to 10-2-2 and 2-1-1 in Atlantic 10 conference play. Their 10 wins represent the most total victories for any team in the conference, but the Rams’ A-10 mark of 2-1-1 currently has them in sixth place.
Rhode Island started strong on Saturday night as they controlled the ball from the opening whistle. Â The Rams connected on several passes to give them several opportunities, but were unable to connect right away. Â About 16 minutes in, though, the Rams were awarded a corner kick and were able to capitalize on their solid play. Sophomore midfielder Nicole Brennan sent a cross over the middle and freshman defender Simone Hansen headed the ball into the left corner of the net for the lone score of the game
The Rams would ultimately control the ball for the majority of the half, but would have no more goals to show for it taking the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
“One of our keys going into the game was matching their physicality and I thought we did that,” Rhode Island head coach Michael Needham said. “I thought we definitely put in a good physical effort.”
The second half was more of the same for the Rams as the Minutemen had just four shots-on-goal in the second half, none of which threatened Rhode Island’s lead. Â The Rams continued to keep the intensity going however they had trouble getting shots on the net.
The Rams would end the match with just three shots-on-goal in the second half, but gave themselves plenty of opportunities. The chances resulted from their ability to win battles physically and to get to the loose balls.
“We went into the tackles pretty hard” sophomore goalkeeper Katie Nickles said. “We tried to make sure we were the first players to the ball.”
The Rams were able to maintain their level of play and captured their fifth shutout of the season, while also getting revenge for last year’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Minutemen.
Nickles saved each of the eight shots-on-goal she faced on Saturday and collected her third shutout of the year.
“We are not going to let them in behind us,” Needham said. “That is our game plan. We will deal with crosses and shots from outside. Our back four were awesome tonight.”
The Rams next travel to Duquesne on Friday for an afternoon game looking for a chance to separate themselves from the Dukes who, despite being 5-7-3, are only a half-game behind Rhode Island in the standings.