Sam Carlino, the starting goalkeeper for the Massachusetts field hockey team, was sitting in her dorm room one night when she heard a knock on her door.
When she opened it, fellow Minutewoman Hannah Prince came in screaming.
“We made it, we made it!” Prince shouted.
Carlino immediately knew what she was talking about. They had been selected to compete for the Under-21 United States national team in the Junior World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, this summer.
“All I could think about was how awesome it would be to represent the United States and what a great opportunity this would be,” Carlino said.
Carlino was one of just two goalies in the nation to be selected despite having just one year of collegiate experience under her belt. She made the most of that one year, however, starting 23 out of 24 games as a freshman for the Minutewomen last season and sporting a 14-9 record with a 1.65 goals against average and a .725 save percentage.
She earned second team All-Conference honors and led UMass to the Atlantic 10 championship.
No moment stood out to Carlino more in her time in Germany than to hear the national anthem play before the first game.
“Besides being with Hannah, the first time I heard our national anthem being played was probably one of my favorite moments while I was there,” Carlino said. “That’s when it made me realize how awesome it was to represent the USA at a major competition like this one.”
The only part that could possibly compare was being able to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with two of her teammates – incoming freshman Charlotte Verelst competed for the Belgian national team. Carlino couldn’t have been more grateful.
“To share this with Hannah was just an unbelievable experience,” Carlino said. “We became really good friends this past year since I played goalie and she played defense, so being able to spend time with her while representing our home country was something I’ll never forget.”
Despite seeing action in just two games and the USA finishing seventh in the tournament overall, Carlino feels she has gained something that no other goalie in the A-10 will have: experience against the top competition in the world..
“I definitely gained very valuable experience on the international level,” Carlino said. “The game is just so much faster and more competitive, and everyone there is incredibly talented. Just to learn from my coaches and other teammates about the game as a whole will definitely help me in the future and hopefully elevate my game to the next level.”
Now that this tournament is in the books, Carlino now turns her attention back to her team in Amherst, with her eyes set on a repeat as A-10 champs.
“I cannot wait for this season to finally begin,” Carlino said. “I think everyone is very anxious to get started, and we are all working very hard right now during the preseason. We are trying to come together as a team and we’re ready to get back out there and try and make another run at the A-10 title.”
Jason Kates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.