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Minutewomen continue to bounce back after losses

Focus is something that Massachusetts field hockey coach, Justine Sowry, preaches to her team and its effect is seen through the unbeatable record the Minutewomen hold in games following a loss.

After dropping its third loss of the season against Syracuse on Saturday, UMass came through yet again with a win against Yale on Sunday.

The Minutewomen traveled to New York to take on the No. 6 Orange in a game that UMass had circled coming into the season. However, the Minutewomen (8-3) trailed 3-0 early, and couldn’t complete a comeback after closing the gap to one. Syracuse (11-1) was too much to handle and its offense came through in a 5-2 victory.

“It was very difficult to come back because we got ourselves up emotionally for the Syracuse game and it was a game that the team had targeted for the entire year,” Sowry said. “They were let down with a really tough loss and had everyone just leave it all out on the field. It was difficult; it was draining physically and draining emotionally.”

The next day, UMass was able to avoid back-to-back losses, edging out Yale (6-4) for a 1-0 win. The lone goal was scored by Eileen Seffron, the first of her career, and was enough with the strong play of the defense and goalkeeper Alesha Widdall.

“They’re a tough group of young women and they somehow get the job done even if it’s not pretty,” Sowry said. “They fight hard for every minute of the game and they’re there for each other.”

After each of the previous two losses, coming against Boston University (4-8) and previously No. 9 ranked Boston College (8-2), the Minutewomen responded with significant wins.

In fact, UMass has now won 12 consecutive games following a loss since breaking a three-game losing streak in the middle of the 2007 season.

The reason for the UMass’ success has been the ability to focus after a loss.

“It really emotionally saps the energy from you so we’ve definitely had to pay close attention to how we deal with losses and refocus. There’s no time to dwell, we have to learn from our mistakes and go game to game,” Sowry said.

“We just have to focus, put it in the past and look forward to the next day,” team captain and leading scorer, Katie Kelly, said. “We can’t let games slide by because we’re dwelling on a loss.”

The teams the Minutewomen defeated after Boston University and Boston College were previously No. 9 ranked Iowa (4-6) and Vermont (1-11), respectively. Though UMass picked up wins, the games were close and competitive. Along with the Yale victory, the three wins coming after a loss have been by one score. Certainly fatigue has played a factor in how well the Minutewomen have been able to play, but Sowry has been pleased with how the team has been able to battle through games.

“No matter what the circumstances are, no matter how tired, they’re committed and that shows a lot about their character,” she said.

Heading forward into the rest of the season, how UMass responds after losses will be a large determinant of its success and whether it’s able to reach its ultimate goal of going deep into the NCAA tournament.

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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