Defense continues to be key for UMass field hockey
The No. 7 Massachusetts field hockey team is off to a 6-1 start, and it has its defense to thank for the early success.
Senior Hannah Prince (six points) and Lauren Allymohamed (four points) have served as the anchors of the defense, which has held their opponents to one goal per game.
One of the things that UMass coach Carla Tagliente is looking for from her defense is organization.
“I think it’s very important to be organized early on and for each player to find out their marking responsibilities right away,” Tagliente said. “Early pressure on the ball is also very important, and just making sure our defenders are mobile and not standing still. We just try and use every ounce of athleticism that we can.”
Putting pressure on the opponent’s offense has always been a part of Tagliente’s style, and is one of the key components of UMass’ strong start.
“It’s typically our style to immediately put pressure on the opposition,” Tagliente said. “The more pressure we can apply early on in the game, the more opportunities we’ll create on the offensive end.”
With players like Prince and Allymohamed solidifying the back line, Tagliente believes that having experienced defenders like them is difficult, and having them on the team is a major reason that the defense has been doing so well.
“It’s really invaluable having those two back there,” Tagliente said. “They’ve spent a lot of time together in the back field, and this year we’ve had more experience back there than previous seasons so it’s helping us with a better attack out of the back and getting the ball out of the back quicker.”
The Minutewomen defense is limiting its opponents to 10.1 shots per game.
Another leader for the UMass defense is sophomore goalkeeper Sam Carlino, who has already registered three shutouts and is posting a 0.794 save percentage, which is good for 12th in the nation. Her shutouts have come against in-state rivals UMass Lowell and Harvard, as well as Ohio State this past weekend.
Tagliente is thrilled with the way her goalkeeper has been playing.
“You can’t really measure what Sam brings to these games for our team,” she said. “She makes clutch saves at the most opportune times, and is very disciplined mentally for the entire game. I think with great goalkeepers, you see the pressure build on them in bigger games and then see them have lapses in games against average teams.
“The great thing about Sam is she treats every game like it’s a big one, which is why I think she has such clean games and so many shutouts. She is super consistent for every game, and you really can’t put a value on that.”
Jason Kates can be reached at email@example.com.