Massachusetts field hockey coach Carla Tagliente believes it is monumental for her team to continue improving.
On Sunday, that’s exactly what the Minutewomen continued to do, as they won their third straight game with a 3-0 shutout victory over Virginia Commonwealth. With the win, they completed a perfect home stand that also included wins over No. 1 Syracuse and Saint Louis.
“September is a time when you are kind of finding your way and I think we found our way and are on track right now and we are playing really good hockey,” Tagliente said. “To be getting better in October is really what you want to see out of your team.”
The Minutewomen (8-8, 2-1 Atlantic 10) took control of the game early when senior midfielder Kim Young scored four minutes and 40 seconds into the contest. Senior forward Nicole Cordero shot the ball in the midst of a scrum in front of the Rams’ (9-5, 0-3 A-10) goal and Young tipped the defected shot in to give UMass the 1-0 lead.
Although UMass scored that goal and also kept VCU off the scoreboard, Tagliente was not satisfied with her team’s first half play.
“We did not have a great first half, but to come out in the second half and to make some changes and to put them away, we did pretty well,” Tagliente said.
As Tagliente alluded to, the Minutewomen answered her criticism in the second half with a quick goal at the 44:06 mark. Redshirt senior defender Callie Sweigart netted her first goal of the season after she knocked in a deflected penalty corner shot by Lauren Allymohamed.
Sweigart said that she envisioned this exact play before the game started.
“We were talking about it in the training room how I had a feeling that Lauren was going to pass me the ball and that’s how it worked out,” Sweigart said.
UMass scored the dagger at the 60:42 mark when junior forward Alyssa Ineson also scored her first goal of the season.
Sweigart echoed Tagliente’s comments and said that Minutewomen are starting to come into form.
“I think that everything is coming together with our passing, and we are finally playing for the whole 70 minutes of the game,” Sweigart said. “It just helps having a team environment where we can just work with each other and beat teams with our teamwork.”
Cordero’s hat trick propels UMass over SLU
One day removed from knocking off the top-ranked Orange, UMass followed it up with a 6-2 win against A-10 foe Saint Louis on Friday.
Tagliente said that the win against the Orange impacted her team in a positive way on Friday.
“We were definitely on a high from (Thursday),” Tagliente said. “I think we are riding on a lot of positive momentum right now.”
Cordero stole the show with the first hat trick of her career. For all three goals, Cordero seemed to be at the perfect spot at the perfect time, which Tagliente said was a focal point for her front line.
“A big focus for them up front was just getting a simple shot off and not worrying about anything fancy or whatever and she did that,” Tagliente said. “She was just in a good scoring position for most of the game and put away her opportunities so that’s great.”
Cordero said that she was overwhelmed with joy when she scored her third goal of the game.
“I was just really excited to get it in,” Cordero said “That was my career high for a game so it is just exciting.”
Cordero said that the forwards made it a goal of theirs to be in better positions to score.
“Each line before the game we go through and have a goal for ourselves and the forward line really wanted to make sure that we got the simple goals,” Cordero said. “We just wanted to make sure that we were in goal scoring positions.”
Tagliente said she found a great deal of similarities between Friday’s win and her team’s win on Sept. 21 against Vermont, in which they won, 10-1.
“Vermont and Saint Louis are a bit similar in terms of their structure and the game plans were a little bit similar in terms of what we were focusing on: dropping under the ball and not so much applying a lot of pressure right away and just focusing on intercepting counter attack,” Tagliente said.
After a few days of rest, the Minutewomen will now prepare for a road trip to Philadelphia this weekend, when they will take on La Salle and Saint Joseph’s on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
Matt Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.