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Minutewomen head to Philadelphia for two-game series against Temple, St. Joe’s

fhockAThe Massachusetts field hockey team heads to Philadelphia, Penn. this weekend to take on two Atlantic 10 opponents in Saint Joseph’s and Temple to open up conference play.

Being the only team yet to play an A-10 game, UMass coach Justine Sowry is eager to dive into the conference which she feels is up for grabs.

“Some teams are doing better than usual, and some teams are not doing as well as they have the last couple years,” she said. “As soon as conference games start, teams step up [to] a whole other level and I think it’s wide open this year.”

In their previous game, the No. 10 Minutewomen (9-4) suffered a 3-0 loss to Connecticut last Friday, marking the first occasion this season that UMass failed to score in a contest.

Sowry wasn’t impressed with the team’s performance and feels they must get back to playing their type of game in order to rebound this weekend.

“It’s just getting back to our game plan,” Sowry said. “The last couple opponents have controlled the tempo and we’ve been doing a lot of the chasing. We’re going to get back to our style of play, from outletting from the backfield and trying to get back to a nice passing game.”

The last game concluded a difficult stint of four games in seven days, with three of those games coming on the road. Two of the seven games also placed the Minutewomen against top 10 opponents, No. 7 UConn (13-1) and No. 6 Syracuse (13-1).

Temple and Saint Joseph’s are teams the Minutewomen have had success against in the past., UMass has a stranglehold on the series against the Hawks dating back to 1989, holding a 24-3 record. The Owls have fared better in their history, but still trail the all time series 10-29 against UMass, dating back to 1978.

Saint Joseph’s (4-7) heads into Friday’s game with momentum, winning four out of its last six games after beginning the season with five consecutive losses. Hawks’ goalkeeper Kelly Swanick, has a 3.29 GAA and a .595 save percentage this year and was named the A-10 Co-Player of the Week after recording two shutouts last weekend.

In 2008, the Minutewomen recorded shutouts against Saint Joseph’s in both their meetings. The regular season matchup went 4-0 in favor of UMass, with four different Minutewomen scoring. The two teams squared off again in the A-10 Championship semifinals, with UMass once again winning decisively, 3-0, receiving three goals from Katie Kelly.

While the Hawks enter the weekend playing well Temple, comes into Sunday’s game dropping seven of its last eight games, including its conference opener.

The Owls (4-10) are 3-3 at home and are well rested, not having played a game since last Friday. Junior co-captain, Sarah Dalrymple, has two shutouts this season along with a 2.79 GAA and 0.678 save percentage while playing every minute in goal.

In their last matchup, 70 minutes were not enough to decide a closely-contested game. The Minutewomen eventually won a stroke-off, 3-1, to take the regular season conference title after the teams were deadlocked in a 1-1 tie through two overtime periods.

Even though UMass dealt with injuries and fatigue the last few weeks, Sowry isn’t too concerned. To have a good chance of winning the conference, the Minutewomen need to get off to a strong start this weekend.

“If we play our style on the day, I’m confident we can get the job done.”

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

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