UMass field hockey has sights set on repeat
With the anticipation of veteran players returning and new players coming in, the preseason always poses as an exciting time for Massachusetts field hockey coach Carla Tagliente.
This year, nothing has changed.
“This preseason we focused on bringing all the new players up to speed in terms of tactics, and what we are trying to work on,” Tagliente said. “Another big area we are focusing on is forming our own identity as a team, as well as our goals and what we’d like to accomplish this season.”
Last season was a memorable one for the Minutewomen, who accumulated a 15-9 record that included an Atlantic 10 title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Now, it must build on last year’s success and live up to lofty preseason expectations. The Minutewomen enter the year with 15 returners and earned seven of eight possible first-place votes to repeat as A-10 champions.
Although they lost several top scorers due to graduation, Tagliente believes her squad will still maintain the high-powered offense that averaged just below three goals a game last season.
“We have a lot of depth this year, more than we had last year,” Tagliente said. “I don’t know who will step up and score those goals but it will be by a committee of players, and I believe we have more people capable of scoring this year than last.
“What you’ll see is even more spreading of the scoring across the board from different players this year. We’re still playing the same style of hockey in terms of fast-paced and a lot of attacking, so we hope to maintain this style of play.”
Tagliente has made it clear that there is no player in particular that will need to step up and have a great year, but will need a team effort to have the season they had last year.
“As a coach, you always want to see all of your players step up and pick up the slack,” Tagliente said. “Good teams are made up of many moving parts, and one thing I look for always is strong leadership from the upperclassmen on and off the field, which will lead to a positive influence on the younger ones, especially the incoming freshmen.”
Following a season that included marquee wins over teams such as Syracuse, Boston College and Ohio State, Tagliente looks at the schedule in segments and not by each individual game.
“We have our non-conference portion of the season first, which is about 13 games, then we have our A-10 play,” Tagliente said. “We don’t look at certain games on the schedule but instead will focus on getting better in non-conference play so we are ready and running on all cylinders when conference play begins.”
UMass gets a major boost with key returning players such as junior defender Lauren Allymohamed, senior defender Hannah Prince, and sophomore goalie Sam Carlino. This past summer, Prince and Carlino represented the USA in the U-21 Junior World Cup in Germany.
With the season beginning on Aug. 30, Tagliente is ready for her team to go out there and set goals for this upcoming year.
“We have our longer term goals as well as our short term goals,” Tagliente said. “Our longer term goals are obviously to perform in A-10 play and win a championship and go on to the NCAAs.
“Our smaller level goals are all focused on the first 10-12 games of the season and just getting better every day, and really solidifying the style of play we will be bringing to the field this year.”
Jason Kates can be reached at email@example.com.