The Massachusetts field hockey team is on a roll.
Two weeks after the team’s outlook appeared bleak after a shutout loss to Richmond that dropped them to a 5-8 record, the Minutewomen are now winners of five straight after a convincing 5-1 victory on the road against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday.
With two games left in the regular season, UMass (10-8, 4-1 Atlantic 10) is now tied for second place in the conference. Coach Carla Tagliente is impressed with how well her squad has been playing recently.
“It is not that we are playing OK hockey and squeaking out of these games,” Tagliente said. “We are dominating and playing really excellent hockey.”
Although the Minutewomen offense scored two early goals from senior defenders Callie Sweigart and Thando Zono to give them a 2-0 lead, the defense stole the show in the first half.
The Hawks (4-13, 1-4 A-10) offense only mustered one shot and didn’t earn a penalty corner throughout the first half. Tagliente said that her defense has been instrumental in the team’s recent success.
“The defense has been doing great and I think that they should be getting a lot of credit for where we are at,” Tagliente said. “Over these past five games and throughout the season they have really stepped up and made some adjustments.”
After UMass was unable to score again before the end of the half, SJU proved it would not go down easily at the start of the second half, as it cut the deficit to one in the 45th minute.
But that was the only goal the Hawks scored. UMass senior forward Nicole Cordero answered right back with her team-leading 12th goal of the season two minutes later as she tipped in a deflected penalty corner shot by senior forward Kim Young.
Freshman midfielder Allie Sabia and redshirt sophomore midfielder Marisa Dunn added two insurance goals, which also happened to be both of their first career goals, to give UMass a commanding 5-1 advantage.
UMass overcomes weak start to down La Salle
The Minutewomen may have struggled in the first half of their 4-1 victory over La Salle on Friday, but they certainly packed a strong second half punch as they scored three second-half goals en route to the win.
“It was a bit of a slow start in the first half, but we made some adjustments and came out strong in the second half,” Tagliente said.
The senior class accounted for three of UMass’ goals. Tagliente said that she has taken notice of the extraordinary leadership her team possesses.
“The seniors have been stepping up on and off the field and have been doing a great job,” Tagliente said. “We have different people step up at critical points in games, but I think the thing you don’t see is when they are bringing the team together when we have moments where we are falling apart a little bit.”
UMass took the lead in the 30th minute when senior forward Kate Heineman scored her first goal of the season on a rebound from a missed shot by freshman midfielder Noralie Weusthuis.
Cordero opened the second half with her first of two goals on the game at the 39:16 mark, and then Weusthuis built the lead to 3-0 with a goal in the 50th minute.
La Salle (7-9, 2-2 A-10) made things interesting just over three minutes later when it notched its only goal of the game to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Cordero capped the scoring in the 66th minute with her second goal of the game.
UMass will be back in action on Friday against Temple at 3 p.m. at Garber Field.
Matt Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.