Despite losing several leading scorers from last year to graduation, the Massachusetts field hockey team hasn’t lost a beat offensively.
UMass has tallied 18 goals on 88 shots through the first five games of the season, 59 of which have been on goal.
Sophomore Brooke Sabia has led the Minutewomen (5-0) this season with seven goals so far. UMass is averaging 3.6 goals per game while allowing just one per game defensively.
UMass coach Carla Tagliente has attributed this great start not just to the recent performances of Sabia, but to efforts of the entire team.
“I think it’s a very collective effort and not just one line in particular,” Tagliente said. “Getting second and third shots has been key for us and we are improving on a lot of our opportunities as well as getting a lot more shots than we usually do.”
There has certainly been no shortage of shots for Tagliente’s squad, which is averaging 17.6 shots a game. She believes the pressure her defense has put on other teams has led to better chances for her offense.
“It’s definitely a joint effort starting with all of our defensive pressing on the other teams, which has caused us to generate more turnovers and get more chances in the offensive zone,” Tagliente said.
Another key component for this UMass offense has been the considerable amount of depth that is on the bench, which has benefited the Minutewomen greatly in close games.
“There isn’t much of a drop off in talent when going to the bench, so being able to substitute and keep up that high level of pressure and high level of skill is really great to see,” Tagliente said.
With the season in the early stages, the Minutewomen have already played five freshmen in every game, including Izzie Delario and Charlotte Verelst, who have started every game. In terms of whether or not the offensive approach has changed over the past year, Tagliente sees little difference.
“I wouldn’t say we changed our style a ton, although we do have different personnel, so we’re just trying to get better at our approach,” Tagliente said. “It’s almost like it’s a five-step process to achieve something we’re trying to do, and we’ve really been on steps one and two for the past two years, so I feel this year we’ve been able to improve and get to steps three and four of the process.”
With two tough games coming up this weekend against Syracuse and Ohio State in New York, UMass hopes to maintain this success on the offense and make sure they do not let off the gas pedal.
“I think we’re generating a lot of opportunities and counterattacks, but I still think we need to increase the production of what we’re getting in the circle,” Tagliente said. “We are generating a lot of shots, but we need to capitalize more on our counterattack opportunities.”
Jason Kates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.