UMass set to host No. 11 Boston University

By Peter Cappiello

Belisle/Collegian

After falling to No. 7 Northeastern in a 4-3 overtime decision at Garber Field on Friday evening, the Massachusetts field hockey team will look to bounce back and secure its first home win of the season on Tuesday afternoon against No. 11 Boston University.

Playing with solidarity through three overtime periods in the last two games —stretching back to a 2-1 double-overtime loss against American in the Terrapin Invitational on Sept. 9 — UMass has shown no loss of intensity heading into its 34th bout with the Terriers in a series that dates back to 1979.

The Terriers beat the Minutewomen last season, 3-0, in Amherst, and UMass coach Carla Tagliente said she has no intentions of allowing history repeat itself.

“They play a similar style to Northeastern,” Tagliente said. “Tactics-wise we’ll have a careful look at them, but the key to success is being emotionally repaired (and performing at our best after a close loss).”

Coming off a two-game losing streak, which includes two shutouts, BU heads to Garber Field as the Minutewomen prepare for their second game since senior defender Thando Zono re-joined the squad after a leave of absence, taken for personal reasons.

Tagliente described the return of Zono as a shot of adrenaline into a team that was already performing at a high level.

“It’s good to have her back,” Tagliente said. “Outside of what she brings in terms of hockey skill, her leadership and energy on the field were missed. It’s nice to have everyone back and the team is like a family again.”

Speaking on Zono’s immediate contributions during the Northeastern game, which was sent to overtime after she scored a penalty corner equalizer in the final minute of regulation play, Tagliente expects Zono’s impact to continue to increase with time.

Zono is ready for the challenge of the Terriers along with the rest of the regular-season.

“(Tweaking aspects of our game like) high communication and avoiding breaks in concentration will help us get ready for Boston University,” Zono said. “I’m excited to play on Tuesday and go out guns-blazing.”

Junior forward Molly MacDonnell sees the team finding their weakness and overcoming it as they take on the remainder of their schedule.

“We had moments last game where we might have let up and that might be our weakness, but there’s no specific time or skill or play that happened that led to our downfall,” MacDonnell said. “You can’t quit for any second in the game and we’re moving on from Northeastern with the goal of getting to the Atlantic 10 conference tournament.”

Reaching the A-10 tournament, which UMass will host, is a goal of every member of the Minutewomen. Aside from an unwavering unity, the mantra of the team is to play a gritty, finesse-free style that puts goals in the cage.

Recognizing the potential of her squad, particularly against ranked and other high-caliber teams, Tagliente stressed the importance of keeping a strong mental fortitude as UMass searches for its 15th win against the Terriers in series history.

“To win, we need to dig deep, be resilient, bounce back from setbacks and believe that we’re a great team,” Tagliente said. “Although we lost to Northeastern, we played an undefeated team to overtime, so it’s a matter of the team — between the ears — believing that they can win.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.