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January 13, 2017

Minutewomen focused on Dartmouth despite key games this weekend

Amanda Joinson

(Amanda Joinson/Collegian)

Before hosting two Atlantic 10 Conference foes in must-win situations this weekend, the Massachusetts field hockey team faces Dartmouth today at Garber Field.

After thrashing Saint Louis with a 10-goal effort in their last game, the No. 19 Minutewomen (10-7, 1-3 A-10) will look to sustain their momentum heading into the home stretch of the season.

Even though the offense was shut out in three of the four consecutive losses prior to the St. Louis win, UMass coach Justine Sowry feels like the Minutewomen are now back on track.

“I think the St. Louis game definitely is exactly what we needed,” Sowry said. “We had six different goal scorers, so to get goals on the board and gain some confidence on our front line, it holds well for the rest of the week.”

Dartmouth had its own ups-and-downs and played inconsistently at times earlier this year. The Big Green (7-7, 3-2 Ivy League) began the season dropping four of their first five games before forming a four-game winning streak. Since the winning streak, Dartmouth has had trouble stringing together victories and is floating around .500 for the season.

In their last game, the Big Green defeated Columbia, 2-1, in rainy conditions on Homecoming. The two teams were at a stalemate through the first half, though Dartmouth held a 6-1 advantage in shots. Early in the second half, sophomore Kelly Hood scored one of her two penalty-corner goals, soaring a shot over the Lions (6-7, 1-3 Ivy) goalkeeper, Christie O’Hara.

Columbia came back and knotted the game at one with a rebound goal 13 minutes into the frame. Hood, however, scored her second penalty-corner goal and the eventual game winner nearly five minutes later to give the Big Green the victory.

This season, UMass has given up plenty of penalty corners, allowing 38 more than awarded. Limiting Dartmouth in penalty corners will be one of the main challenges the Minutewomen will face Wednesday.

“They’re a tough a team, they have a couple of key players that we have to take care of,” Sowry said. “I think if we just stick to our basics, it should be a good game. Our priority would be to pass the ball more and let the ball do more work and us do less running.”

UMass and Dartmouth met last year towards the beginning of the season and the Minutewomen won, 2-0, ending their three-game losing streak against the Big Green. Jill Powers and Katie Kelly each tallied a score, while goalkeeper Alesha Widdall recorded her second shutout victory. UMass was dominant in its performance, outshooting and out-cornering Dartmouth, 18-8 and 11-5, respectively. However, UMass will be without Powers this time around and for the rest of the season after she suffered a broken foot last Friday.

Though the Big Green are first on the schedule of three games to close out the season, the last two contests are the most significant. In order to reach the A-10 Tournament, which UMass hosts, it will have to win out against conference opponents La Salle and West Chester this weekend.

“We need to make it, but we can’t focus on that,” Sowry said. “We’re preparing for Dartmouth. We don’t want to talk too much about the weekend and just take it one day at a time.”

To reach the conference tournament and win it for the third consecutive season, Sowry believes the team will have to relax on the field and not get caught up in their emotions.

“We have to chunk the game together and play some nice hockey. It’s very dangerous when we get a little desperate and frustrated in our play,” Sowry said. “We like to say chunk it five minutes at a time and hopefully at the end of the day we’ll make it through.”

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

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