Minutewomen prepare for tilts with ranked opponents

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

Maria Uminski/Collegian
The Massachusetts field hockey team will look to ride the momentum of its victorious home opener when it takes on two ranked teams in No. 20 Northeastern and No. 3 Maryland Friday and Sunday, respectively, at Garber Field.

UMass improved to 2-3 this season with a 3-0 blanking of Harvard last Saturday. It was the Minutewomen’s first shutout of the season and it was a collective effort on both the offensive and defensive side that led to the victory.

UMass got an early lead with a nifty backhand top-shelf goal in the fifth minute by Kim Young. Nicole Cordero extended the lead in the 17th minute when she took a long lead pass from Alyssa Ineson into the circle, netting her second goal of the season.

Nikki Panciocco gave the Minutewomen insurance in the second half, extending the lead to 3-0. Pancioccio tipped in a rocket shot from senior captain Callie Sweigart for the first of her career.

UMass’ dominance was on display with a 26-5 shot advantage and a 10-0 edge in penalty corners. The Minutewomen held the shot advantage 16-1 in the first half.

“Our confidence is pretty strong but they are a humble group and know that they have a strong schedule in front of them, so their heads are focused right now,” said UMass coach Carla Tagliente. “We’re confident and feeling pretty good and just improving every day.”

This will be the fourth consecutive season the Minutewomen and Huskies (4-2) face off, with UMass dominating the series 3-0 since 2008.

Last season, the Minuewomen beat the Huskies 2-1 on the road. Seniors Christine Cutry and Panciocco each had an assist in the win, while Alesha Widdall recorded seven saves.

The Huskies are coming off a loss to then-No. 16 Stanford last Sunday, dropping the contest 4-2.
Junior forward Crystal Poland scored both goals, marking her third consecutive multi-goal game this season. The UMass defenders will be looking out for her number as she has found the back of the net 13 times already this season.

“Most of her goals are coming from penalty corners, she’s got one of the nicest drags I’ve seen yet, so the biggest thing for us is to limit giving up penalty corners,” said Tagliente. “She’s dangerous in the field of play but not nearly as much as she is on penalty corners.”

UMass has not had as much recent success against Maryland.

The Minutewomen were shut out 3-0 on the road last season against the Terrapins (5-1). Maryland held a 12-4 shot advantage as well as a 9-3 edge in penalty corners. Widdall recorded four saves in the match.
The two teams met again in the NCAA Tournament as the Terrapins collected a 4-2 win to move on, ending UMass’ season in the process.

Maryland’s only loss of the season came to then-No. 12 Old Dominion, but the Terrapins have won three consecutive games since. Their most recent victory came against Villanova, 6-3.

It was Jill Witmer’s hat trick that led the Terrapins to their fifth victory of the season, outshooting the Wildcats 32-3, while taking 19 penalty corners and converting on four of them.

Maryland’s three main goal producers are Jemma Buckley, Katie Gerzabek and Witmer. When it comes to penalty corners, Maryland is one of the best in the business, holding a 56-14 edge this season. They have also outshot opponents 108-43.

“I think the key to Maryland is attacking them and getting pressure on them versus stepping back and waiting for them to attack us,” said Tagliente. “They have one of the best attacking systems in the country so if we just stand back they’ll pick us apart all day, so we plan on meeting them toe-to-toe and going at them.”

The Terrapins travel to Chestnut Hill to take on No. 8 Boston College on Friday before arriving in Amherst on Sunday. The game kicks off at noon.

Michael Counos can be reached at [email protected]