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Minutewomen look to go 3-0 in the Atlantic 10

The Massachusetts field hockey team looks to stay undefeated in Atlantic 10 conference play as they take on Saint Joseph’s and Saint Louis this weekend. UMass currently sits at 3-9 overall and 1-0 in A-10 play.

The Minutewomen are coming off a loss to non-conference opponent No. 16 Albany last Sunday. The game was scoreless heading into double overtime, thanks to the performance of senior captain Alesha Widdall in net, who recorded a career-high 12 saves. The match came down to penalty strokes when the second overtime period ended at 0-0. The Great Danes scored twice on penalty shots while the Minutewomen were unable to put any away, dropping the match, 1-0.

“We played with them for a full 100 minutes and it was a big confidence builder to play with them the whole time in overtime,” said UMass coach Carla Tagliente.

On Saturday, the Minutewomen opened their conference schedule against Lock Haven. UMass found themselves down early, when Kristi Shepps scored in the ninth minute of the game. The Minutewomen stayed composed and got it done in the second half, when junior forward Kara Charochak tied it in the 43rd minute with her first goal of the season. Junior forward Kate Heineman gave UMass the lead in the 62nd minute, scoring off a penalty corner.

“It was important for us to come out and play strong and send a message for the rest of the conference,” said Tagliente.

On Friday, UMass returns home to host Saint Joseph’s. After dropping their conference-opener to Temple on Oct. 7, the Hawks have won two straight against Georgetown and Villanova.

In their only meeting last season, the Minutewomen defeated the Hawks, 4-1, behind Thando Zono’s two goals. Widdall turned away six shots as UMass outshot the Hawks, 27-11.

The Minutewomen will have to keep a close eye on Ellen Rowe, who leads the team with seven goals in 12 games.

“It’s really important that we start off good against St. Joe’s and then continue that success into Sunday,” said Tagliente.

On Sunday, the Minutewomen hit the road to take on the Billikens, who  sit at 3-11. With just 17 goals in 14 games, the Billikens have struggled to score. Their opportunities are lacking as well, as opponents have outshot them, 302-93.  Lexie Lindblad leads the team in points and goals with four and four, respectively.

Last season, UMass blanked Saint Louis, 4-0, on Oct. 9. Alexa Sikalis and Kelly each had a goal in the game. The Minutewomen defense did not allow the Billikens get off a single shot, out-shooting them, 28-0.

Sunday’s game is slated to begin at 2 p.m.

“We’ve been fine-tuning some fundamentals and are looking to keep the momentum going through the rest of A-10 play,” said Tagliente.

UMass could use some help in the scoring column, as its 14 goals is last in the conference. Five different players have at least two goals.

Widdall is sporting a .756 save percentage to go along with two shutouts.

Friday’s game at Garber Field gets underway at 3:00 p.m. UMass currently sits in third place in the A-10 standings and has won 10-straight games against conference opponents. The Minutewomen are trying to win the conference for the second year in a row.

Michael Counos can be reached at mcounos@student.umass.edu.

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