Just one week after covering the Massachusetts football team’s game against New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium, I hit the road again for Comedy Central hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” in Washington D.C, then left for Philadelphia to kill multiple birds (covering UMass sports, cutting down on driving time and sight-seeing a great city) with one stone.
On Sunday afternoon, the Collegian staffers who made the road trip and I left the comfy confines of our Sheraton hotel, traveled roughly seven miles north on Broad Street through some rough neighborhood in Philly, passed fellow Atlantic 10 school Temple and arrived at La Salle just in time to cover the field hockey game.
When I got there, the environment was nothing like what I dealt with just last week. In fact, this stadium wasn’t anywhere near the quality of Garber Field. Instead of a working press box with a view over the stadium, I had a seat on the top bleacher with spotty internet connection and surrounded by fans of the Explorers. The field itself didn’t even belong to La Salle’s field hockey team, but to the baseball team.
In addition, the Minutewomen didn’t have the hype surrounding the game that the “Colonial Clash” had. The football team received coverage across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Hampshire Gazette was the only other paper besides the Collegian to cover the field hockey team’s ninth-straight win.
But in this game, the drama provided all the entertainment necessary to make-up for what it lacked in pomp and circumstance. Just when it looked like the Minutewomen would cruise to a perfect season in the A-10 after a goal from junior Thando Zono, La Salle’s Gabrielle Nolt scored during the final two minutes of the first half to tie the game.
UMass got past the field turf on a baseball diamond, which made controlling the ball that much more difficult and pulled off a second goal against the Explorers.
Following the game, there were only two people at the post-game interviews – myself and Nick O’Malley, the Collegian’s Multimedia Sports Producer.
Needless to say, this game didn’t get the attention it deserved. The Minutewomen finished their conference slate undefeated and finished the season as the only team to hold a nine-game winning streak all season.
UMass became arguably the best sports story of the semester without any acknowledgment.
The Minutewomen started last season with a hot start with wins over some of the best teams in the nation, but struggled against its own conference and just barely snuck into the tournament. They eventually lost to Richmond and were not the A-10 Champions-a rarity for UMass coach Justine Sowry and Co.
This year, the Maroon and White weren’t so stellar during their non-conference schedule with a 6-6 record, although they accomplished upsets against rivals Syracuse and Connecticut at home.
After falling out of the rankings, the Minutewomen are now in position to reclaim the A-10 crown – and nobody cares. Never mind the fact that the field hockey program is currently the most successful program UMass has to offer behind softball, but for the most part goes unnoticed among the community.
It’s easy to get swept up in the three biggest sports here (basketball, football and hockey) and forget about some of the smaller sports. But if you take out the whole “it’s football” argument and disregard the fact that Gillette Stadium is significantly nicer than the ratty-looking baseball diamond the field hockey team had to play on, the game I went to this Sunday was actually better to watch than last week’s.
There are some times when the simple things are more enjoyable, and this is one of them. When you watch a team as good as the Minutewomen, there’s no need for a fancy press box or a venue that holds over 68,000 people.
All that’s needed is a good storyline, a well-played game and the rest will unfold in front of you. If you’re one of those people who think there are only three sports at UMass worth watching, I would suggest attending a field hockey game, even if it takes a trip out of Amherst through the slums of Philadelphia to finally come to that realization.
Adam Miller is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.