Offense making huge improvements for UMass field hockey

By Matt Levine

Cade Belisle/Collegian

Before the season started, Massachusetts field hockey coach Carla Tagliente said that her team’s biggest weakness would be its offense. But after averaging a little over 2.5 goals per game in 11 games this season, Tagliente would like to retract that statement.

She said that the offensive improvement is much deserved and that assistant coach Shannon Taylor has a lot to do with it.

“They worked really hard in the spring and preseason and this fall so far and Shannon has come in and done some really excellent stuff with them in the circle with their circle work,” Tagliente said. “It is really paying off right now.”

Tagliente said that she was worried about the offensive production at the beginning of the season based on last season’s struggles, but statistics verify the improvement. Through 11 games last year, the Minutewomen tallied 14 goals. This year’s squad surpassed that total in game three and have 29 scores on the season.

Another reason for the increased offensive production from last season is that the team is simply better than last year’s squad, according to Tagliente.

“To be able to keep the ball in your end and maintain possession takes a level of skill that we are now at,” Tagliente said. “I think the players have come along a bit and have grown in their basic fundamental skills.”

The Minutewomen (5-6) will have to maintain their offensive surge against No. 3 Connecticut on Wednesday. UConn (11-0) will bring its undefeated record to Garber Field having already recorded five shutouts. Knowing this, Tagliente said that every team has their flaws, even a team as good as the Lady Huskies.

“They do have an excellent goalkeeper, but I think they are very vulnerable in many areas,” Tagliente said. “(The five shutouts) is not something that has crossed my mind.”

UMass has played a lot of the same teams that UConn has, but Tagliente points to UConn’s six wins by a one-goal margin as a confidence-booster for her team.

“You look at their score line with all of their games; they have all been one-score games, they have just come out on the positive end,” Tagliente said. “We match up really well, it is just us believing that and continuing to focus on what we have been focusing on.”

The source of Tagliente’s confidence for her offense starts with the play of sophomore defender Lauren Allymohamed.

“Starting from the back with our general distribution, Lauren (Allymohamed) has been outstanding,” she said. “I would say she is one of the better backs in the country in terms of her accuracy and her distribution and her power.”

Tagliente also pointed to the midfield, which, in her opinion, is superior to last year’s edition. She also added the move of Kim Young, who leads the team with seven goals, from the midfield to the attack this season is why they have such an enhanced offensive attack.

But Tagliente said that the No. 1 reason her offense is playing so well is that the defenders, midfielders and attackers are playing as one cohesive unit.

“It is really a collective effort, otherwise we would not be sustaining any attack or getting the number of shots we get,” Tagliente said.

Although the Minutewomen have found the remedy for one of their struggles, Tagliente acknowledges there are still aspects of the game where they could improve.

 

“We struggle consistently to put together 70 minute structures of the game,” Tagliente said. “It is pretty unrealistic to see a team play for 70 minutes and dominate for every minute; it is just how we respond in those minutes and what we do in those moments, but we have come a long way.”

Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]