With two games remaining in a three-game homestand, the seventh-ranked Massachusetts field hockey team continues to find success at Garber Field, as it has started out the season 4-0 at home.
The Minutewomen (7-2), coming off of a 5-1 win over Hoftra on Sunday, hope to make Garber Field a place where opponents dread going into conference play. UMass coach Carla Tagliente believes that the level of familiarity a home field brings to a team is one of the main reasons for her team’s great start.
“I think in any sport anywhere, it’s always easier to play at home,” Tagliente said. “Every field plays differently, and just knowing your field’s surface helps a great deal down the stretch. It helps not having to get on a bus for three hours and travel the whole day, but overall I think our performances at home have been significantly better, as well as on the road.”
In the four games UMass has played at home so far this season, there has been no shortage of offensive production, outscoring opponents 18-3 and recording two shutouts on the defensive side. This production shows significant improvement since last year when the Minutewomen started off the season 1-4 at home, with the lone win being a 10-1 rout over Vermont.
Although UMass is undefeated at home, it holds a 3-2 record on the road and at neutral sites, with both losses coming against Connecticut and Syracuse, teams that are both ranked in the top 10. Tagliente mentioned several challenges that her team faces when having to hit the road for games
“Whether it’s during a weeknight or weekend, there are always obstacles to overcome before playing in a game,” Tagliente said. “I think weeknights on the road are extremely challenging for the team because some of the players are going through a full day of class and immediately get on the road, so it just makes for a really long day.”
UMass continued the tradition of starting out the season on the road this year, picking up its first two wins after traveling to Maine. Last year, the Minutewomen traveled to New Hampshire, where they also began the season with a 2-0 record.
With the homestand concluding this weekend, UMass faces arguably its toughest opponent yet when No. 2 ranked Maryland comes to Amherst for a highly anticipated non-conference contest on Sunday at 1 p.m.. Tagliente believes that this game will present a very tough challenge for her team regardless of the fact that it will be at Garber Field.
“I don’t think that being on our home field gives us that much of an advantage in a game like this, but it eliminates many of the unknowns of not knowing the surface and also takes away a number of uncontrollables that traveling creates, especially fatigue,” Tagliente said.
Jason Kates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.