Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s track and field takes first, men fourth at Joe Donahue Games -

January 20, 2018

Sanzo: UMass’ game vs. St. Louis is a sign of what it is without its grit -

January 20, 2018

UMass men’s basketball gets blown out by Saint Louis, 66-47 -

January 20, 2018

UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win -

January 19, 2018

Matt Murray hands Northeastern its first shutout of the season -

January 19, 2018

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

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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