UMass field hockey ‘not fazed’ by playing under pressure

By Matt Levine

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To put it simply, the Massachusetts field hockey team is used to playing under pressure this season.

The Minutewomen have already played more games decided in overtime (5) this season than it did throughout all of last season.

UMass (3-4) has won its first three overtime matches this season, but has lost its last two. Coach Carla Tagliente said that her team is well-versed in playing overtime periods.

“I think having the experience, it is not a novel situation for us,” she said. “We are not fazed by it at this point.”

Tagliente added that having a great deal of overtime experience would do wonders for her team in the future, specifically for Atlantic 10 play.

“There is always an opportunity down the road in A-10 play that we will be in that situation and to have experience playing in overtime will benefit us,” Tagliente said.

Although UMass had found some success in the overtime periods, Tagliente added that she would rather have her team close the game out in regulation.

“I don’t think we want to go through the season playing the majority of our games into overtime, so it is a bit healthy that we got a wake-up call the past two (games),” she said.

The Minutewomen’s three overtime wins have come against ranked teams and Tagliente said that the team’s success in those games derived from them taking advantage of scoring opportunities that are frequent during overtime periods.

“You are going to get great shots at goal on both ends of the field,” Tagliente said, “so you really need to capitalize because chances are you are going to be numbers down in a situation in a couple minutes.”

The past two losses – against American and No. 7 Northeastern – have come in overtime. Tagliente said that the difference between those games and the prior three overtime victories were that her team could not exploit the many scoring opportunities they had.

According to Tagliente, the reason her team has played a multitude of games decided in overtime is because her team frequently becomes complacent when possessing leads, allowing opposing teams to get back into the games.

“We need to be in the mindset that we need to dominate teams versus play just to stay with them,” she said.

Tagliente admitted that her team is young and inexperienced and that those qualities may contribute to her team’s inability to close games out in regulation.

“We are still developing and growing with on-field leadership and that is not going to come overnight,” she said.

UMass will play No. 11 Boston University today. The Terriers have a 3-0 record in overtime games this season, and Tagliente even compared BU to Northeastern, who beat the Minutewomen in overtime.

“I think they play a similar style as Northeastern,” she said. “I’m not expecting an identical match, but I think we match up well and I think that it is an opportunity for us to do exactly what I said earlier and play to win and shut the door on the game and not look back.”

Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]