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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 familiar with role as underdog host

Michael Wood/Collegian

The Massachusetts field hockey team knows this role all too well. It’s the role of the tournament-hosting team that just snuck into its own dance.

That was the Minutewomen last year. They had to win their last three conference games just to suit up in their own tournament the following weekend. UMass did just that, and in dominating fashion, by outscoring its last three conferences foes by a total of 20-4.

But this year that role went to Temple, the team UMass faces in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Friday. Heading into last weekend, the Owls were in a deadlock with Richmond and Saint Joseph’s for third place in the Atlantic 10 with a 3-2 conference record.

After losing a head-to-head matchup to the Spiders last Friday, the only hope for Temple was to beat Lock Haven – one of the top two teams in the A-10 and the owners of a robust 5-1 conference record.

It happened. By a score of 3-2, on the final day of the regular season, the Owls guaranteed themselves a game this weekend. 

Midway through last year, after a 9-3 non-conference record and a No. 10 ranking in the country, UMass lost four games in a row, including three ever-important conference games to put its postseason plans in serious jeopardy.

The Minutewomen did respond with a run but unfortunately their year ended in the first round of the playoffs against top-seeded Richmond. It was a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime defeat that still resonates with the team today.

Last year’s semifinal loss came after the Minutewomen quickly went ahead, 1-0, in the first eight minutes of play and held that lead past halftime. In overtime, UMass appeared to have won the game to advance to the finals but an official said that Cher King had knocked the ball in with her body. The Spiders scored just a few minutes later to move on.

“The memory that still sticks out is last year,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “It’s great to get the number one seed but when you go into a tournament where there’s just a semifinal and a final, then it doesn’t really mean anything. We still have a lot to prove and we want to redeem ourselves from last year. We really want to get the A-10 championship back.”

Now it’s a mirror image. UMass is the No. 1 seed facing the team that almost didn’t make it in. However, despite being the top team in the conference, the Minutewomen have a tough matchup with Temple in front of them.

“They’re pretty much considered an underdog,” Sowry said. “We’ve got to be ready because they have nothing to lose. They’ll be playing with everything that they possibly have, without any expectation. We are expected to win.”

What makes the challenge greater is that the Owls also have their lively home crowd behind them, a boisterous one as Sowry puts it, and one that is quite capable of impacting Friday’s game.

“The temple crowd is definitely very vocal,” Sowry said. “They usually get a large crowd out supporting them, which sometimes can add an extra player onto your team. So we have to really block that out and stay focused on the process.”

The two month season has come down to this. UMass has a chance to absolve itself from the way last season ended. It’s playing the role of Richmond – the favorite, the expected winner. Now it’s up to the Minutewomen to quiet the home crowd as well as the tribulations of a year ago.

Pete Vasquez can be reached at pvasquez@student.umass.edu.

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