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UMass field hockey looks ahead to Monmouth in NCAA play-in game

Jong Man Kim/Collegian

(Jong Man Kim/Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team is looking ahead to Wednesday’s NCAA tournament play-in game against Monmouth with positivity and excitement after winning its fourth Atlantic 10 championship in the last five years Saturday over top-seeded Saint Joseph’s.

The Minutewomen (13-7, 6-2 A-10) left campus Monday for the West Long Beach, New Jersey, campus looking to practice on the Hawks (17-2, 6-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) home turf and acclimate themselves to the conditions they will encounter Wednesday at So Sweet A Cat Field.

“We’re ready, excited and want to win a trip to Maryland,” UMass coach Amy Robertson said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “It’s definitely intense just to keep going … It’s a whirlwind, but it’s fun.”

The Minutewomen enter Wednesday’s game 7-1 in their last eight play-in game matchups, most recently defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes 1-0 in 2015. Their only loss during that span came against Stanford in 2010.

With so many players returning from last year, according to Robertson, it’s impossible not to think about last season’s results.

“That’s always natural to think about last year,” Robertson said. “But we’re confident and we believe in ourselves. We don’t have to play any different, we just have to play true to ourselves.”

When Robertson looks at Monmouth, she sees a team that plays with a passion and plays for 70 minutes every game. She does, however, still expect to win. UMass has had little time to think about this matchup after having such a quick turnaround from Saturday’s win.

The Hawks may be UMass’ toughest test this season. The keys for the Minutewomen is to stay composed, continue to play their game and to be there for each other. This is also the first matchup between the two schools.

“Our key is to stay composed and take what’s given to you,” Robertson said. “We have to play good (defense) and we have to deny their players first and then ready where our advantages are.”

A win over Monmouth Wednesday would send UMass into the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second season in a row. This time it would face regional host and No. 2 nationally ranked Maryland in College Park.

According to Robertson, one the Minutewomen’s advantages coming into Wednesday’s matchup is their versatility.

“We are a team that moves play really well,” Robertson said. “Our forwards are extremely skilled, our (midfielders) execute really well on both ends of the ball and our defense plays well with the others.”

One thing Robertson seemed to repeat was that tomorrow isn’t merely a game, but a battle. She wants them to be ready to play their game and to not try to do too much.

“Mentally they have to be ready for a battle,” Robertson said. “They have to be supporting each other and not taking a shot just to take a shot, but we have to enter the circle with a purpose.”

Wednesday’s game is set to begin a 1 p.m.

Zander Manning can be reached at alexandermann@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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