The No. 19 Massachusetts field hockey team, riding the momentum of a big win over No. 17 Boston College on the road after falling to Dartmouth, face off against No. 3 Maryland and American University this weekend in the Terrapin Invitational in College Park, Md.
Led by 25-year head coach Missy Meharg, the Terrapins (3-1), who most recently shut out No. 15 Ohio State 5-0 after a loss against Old Dominion, present a dangerous style of play that UMass (3-1) coach and Maryland alum Carla Tagliente is well aware of.
“It’s a big game for us. Regardless of if it’s my (alma mater) or not, Maryland is traditionally one of the best teams in the country,” Tagliente said.
The trip will also be a homecoming of sorts for senior midfielder Kate Heineman, of Ellicott, Md., who hopes to make it a memorable return.
“I live in Delaware now, but I grew up in Maryland, so it’s kind of like (a) hometown (battle),” Heineman said. “This is probably the most dedicated team I think we’ve had. I personally experience a whole other energy – everyone wants it, everyone has the same goal and we’re going for it.”
American will likely not present the same challenge for UMass that Maryland is expected to.
The Eagles (0-4-1) have struggled mightily out of the gates despite starting the season ranked No. 25, dropping them from the national picture.
It has been quite the opposite for the Minutewomen thus far, who have already knocked off three ranked opponents despite being unranked.
Tagliente’s squad is well aware of American’s situation after a slow start last season and said the Eagles are not a team to be taken lightly.
“They may not have a win,” Tagliente said. “But I still think they easily could be a top 25 team once they start clicking as a group.”
Based on past encounters, Tagliente said American is well-coached and always ready to play come game time.
Tagliente said that the international players on American will require UMass to do a little more scouting.
One player she highlighted was senior defender and German native, Gina Hofmann. With Sunday’s contest being the second of back-to-back road games as part of the Maryland Invitational in College Park, Md., UMass will be in a comfortable place as it takes a 3-0 road mark into the weekend.
“We have proven that we like to play on the road,”Tagliente said. “And hopefully we will continue this weekend.”
Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]
Peter Cappiello can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.