UMass stays hot with undefeated conference record
Coming into a two-game weekend against two Atlantic 10 conference opponents, the Massachusetts field hockey team knew the importance of pulling out a couple of conference wins following a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss at Albany.
After notching a win in its first conference game at Lock Haven last week, the Minutewomen stayed hot on Sunday as they moved to 3-0 in A-10 conference play with a 3-1 win over St. Louis.
UMass stayed consistent with its theme of getting everyone involved. Kim Young, Nikki Panciocco and Lindsay Bowman each scored off of penalty corners to lead the Minutewomen past the Billikens. Panciocco scored what would prove to be the game winner just six minutes, 50 seconds into the start of the second half. Bowman added an insurance goal and her third of the year in the 59th minute.
The excitement among the Minutewomen was contagious as they saw their hard work pay-off.
“We haven’t peaked yet, but we’re going to peak by the end of the A-10’s,” said Mel Sutherland.
Finding the spark
The heat began for UMass on Friday afternoon at Garber field as it scored seven goals en route to a 7-0 shutout over St. Joe’s.
The Minutewomen put forth a complete team effort with six different players contributing goals.
The torrential downpour didn’t faze UMass as the team won its second conference game of the season to stay undefeated in conference play. The win marks the 10th conference win in a row at home for the Minutewomen, dating back to 2009.
Alesha Widdall, last week’s A-10 Player of the Week, made three saves in her shutout effort – her second of the season and 23rd of her career at UMass. Freshman Lauren Allymohamed contributed a defensive save to keep the shutout in tact.
By posting seven goals on Friday, UMass matched its highest goal total at Garber field since 1998. The scoring attack was evenly distributed among the team. Sophomore forward Molly MacDonnell scored two goals while defender Callie Sweigart added a goal and an assist. Senior and fellow defensive back Christine Cutry added a goal as well.
UMass coach Carla Tagliente has spoke all season long about getting the defense more involved with the offense by pushing forward. On Friday, the offense and defense were in harmony and Tagliente saw this pay off.
“They did a great job. It was a great collective effort from all 11 on the field. It was important to stay alert for 70 minutes,” said Tagliente after the game.
Allymohamed and Sutherland each contributed on offense as well. Allymohamed fed an assist on one of MacDonnell’s goals, the first in her young career. Sutherland added a goal in the 53rd minute off one of two helpers from junior midfielder Young. The goal by Sutherland was also the first of her career.
“My first goal, this smile is not going to leave my face,” said Sutherland.
The team attributed its tough non-conference schedule to preparing them for A-10 play. Spirits are high among the team as it looks to finish its season strong against three conference opponents in three of their final four games.
UMass will be home on Friday as it faces off against La Salle at 3 p.m. It will round out the weekend on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Temple, looking to come home 5-0 in conference play.
Matt Strong can be reached at email@example.com.