Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Minutewomen want to get back on track

The Massachusetts field hockey team did something this weekend that it hadn’t done since the middle of the 2007 season.

For the first time in two years, the Minutewomen (9-6, 0-2 Atlantic 10) dropped three straight contests. Uncharacteristically for UMass, two of the teams it fell against were A-10 opponents Saint Joseph’s and Temple.

Last season, the Minutewomen cruised in conference play, going undefeated and claiming the A-10 title for the second consecutive year.

Even with the struggles Saint Joseph’s and Temple have faced in the last couple of seasons, UMass coach Justine Sowry was not overly surprised by the outcomes.

“They’re very good teams, and they always bring their best,” she said. “When you’re ranked as high as you are, you’re always going to be hunted down.”

With the success the Minutewomen have had in the past, Sowry also felt her team might have been looking past both opponents.

“I was not surprised, but on some levels, I think our team was surprised.”

In the process of losing three straight games, UMass was shutout in two of them against the Hawks and in a 3-0 Connecticut loss, and scored only one goal in the other game against the Owls. The Minutewomen haven’t been a high-scoring team, and their identity lies in the strength of their defense. Their attack comes from the backfield, and is set up by the defense, which has had difficulties in its past few games.

“We certainly are still attacking, we’re still getting into the circle, but we’re probably putting ourselves in one-on-one situations rather than getting numbers in attack, so we can perhaps get our teammates in better situations to score,” Sowry said of the offense.

This season, UMass is averaging just under two goals a contest, while giving up almost a goal and a half per game. In order to reach postseason play and make a run, Sowry realizes that her team must pick up the scoring and relieve pressure off of the defense.

“We’re really looking at supporting each other off the ball, trying to get the confidence back, trying to get the repetition in this week so we can put the ball in the back of the net,” she said.

Things don’t look any easier heading forward, as the Minutewomen have a stretch of four games in the span of a week, starting Friday against conference foe Richmond. If UMass wants to play itself back into favor, it will get its chance with four remaining A-10 matchups the rest of the way.

“Our backs are up against the wall right now. We’re coming from behind now and it’s going to be really tough,” Sowry said. “We have to keep the faith and keep believing that it’s virtually one ball at a time, it’s not even one day at a time, it’s one ball at a time, one set play, [and] one penalty stroke at a time.”

Despite the tough circumstances for UMass, the coaching staff believes this could be a blessing in disguise and give the team the kick that it needs.

“As my assistant coach, Kelly Dostal, said, ‘this could be the best worst thing that’s happened to us,’” Sowry said.

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

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