Massachusetts field hockey coach Carla Tagliente and the Minutewomen picked up their second win of the season as they shut out Harvard on a sun-drenched Garber Field Saturday afternoon in their home opener.
UMass won 3-0 against the Harvard Crimson, improving its record to 2-3 on the season. A combination of excellent defensive pressure and solid offense helped the Minutewomen to achieve victory in their first of a four-game homestretch.
“We made some adjustments over the past two weeks and we really just played a great game and it truly was a collective effort,” said Tagliente.
The Maroon and White jumped out to a quick lead when junior midfielder Kim Young scored in the fifth minute on a top-shelf goal. Young dribbled through the Crimson defenders into the circle and sent a reverse-stick shot over Harvard goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos. It was Young’s second goal of the season to give UMass the 1-0 lead.
The first half was all UMass, as the Minutewomen held a 16-1 shot advantage.
In the 12th minute, UMass doubled its lead with Nicole Cordero’s second goal of the season. Cordero corralled the ball on a perfect lead pass from Alyssa Ineson into the circle and then lifted it into the left side of the net. The assist was Ineson’s first point of her career.
UMass held the advantage in penalty corners, 10-0, something the Minutewomen have struggled with early into the season. They had four golden opportunities in the first half but were unable to convert any for goals.
“I would say it is definitely something we need to work on and it is a focal point of the offense,” said Tagliente. “I was happy to see that we drew so many today but it comes down to execution and we need to be able to put them away.”
In the second half, UMass did take advantage of the penalty corner as Nikki Panciocco netted her first collegiate goal, tipping in a Callie Sweigart strike from inside the circle. UMass got the 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Harvard did threaten more in the second half, taking four of five shots, as Alesha Widdall turned away a pair to preserve the shutout. UMass took a flurry of shots, firing off 26 in the game. Tassopoulos turned away 13 shots.
“Defense was outstanding today,” said Tagliente. “We played with one more midfielder than usual, which gave Harvard a tough time getting through to our backs. I thought the backs communicated and intercepted well.”
The Minutewomen have three tough non-conference games at Garber Field coming up against Northeastern, Maryland and Boston University. Still, Tagliente is confident in her squad.
“I think confidence is important. We are a younger team and are still learning,” said Tagliente. “This is a great group I have here but they need to believe that and I think we proved today that we can do more than just defend for 70 minutes and we actually have a lot of skill on the attack.”
Prior to the game, the 1981 UMass National Finalist team was recognized for its achievement of reaching the NCAA championship game 30 years ago. Harvard Coach Sue Caples was a part of the 1981 team that finished the season 17-1-2.
Michael Counos can be reached at email@example.com.