UMass field hockey drops A-10 opener to No. 22 Richmond

By Matt Levine

Victoria Lynn/Collegian

After dropping its Atlantic 10 opener in a 1-0 defeat to rival No. 22 Richmond on Saturday, Massachusetts field hockey coach Carla Tagliente refused to allow her team to hang their heads.

“It is disappointing to have the loss, but it is good for us to see where we are at in comparison with them and we know where we are at and we feel confident going into the A-10,” Tagliente said.

Tagliente said her team will pocket the valuable experience and use it throughout the rest of the season.

The Minutewomen (5-8, 0-1 A-10) traveled to Richmond, Va., to take on the Spiders (8-4, 1-0 A-10) in a battle for a share of a seat on the A-10 throne. The game remained a defensive stalemate until the 67th minute when Richmond junior forward Christina Amorose put the Spiders in front.

Freshman midfielder Avery Stafford started the play, penetrating the middle of the UMass defense. After attracting Minutewomen defenders, she passed it to Amorose, who was left open deep outside of the circle. Amorose took advantage of the space, one-timing the pass from Stafford over the head of UMass goaltender Sam Carlino.

Tagliente said Amorose lofted the ball over Carlino at an impossible angle.

“It was a very random, 1-in-a-500 type of shot you will ever see,” Tagliente said. “But it was really nice.”

Tagliente said that she was proud of the way her defense pressured Richmond, but that it is tough to swallow letting up a goal like that.

“To have kind of a one-off thing go in is a little bit heartbreaking, but I think the team rebounded and responded well,” Tagliente said.

The Minutewomen had a couple of chances to get on the board, but they could not take advantage of them. Their best opportunity was when junior forward Lindsay Bowman was on a breakaway towards the Spiders goal and crossed it to senior forward Nicole Cordero. but she was unable to handle the pass.

Senior forward Kim Young created her own opportunity as well, but after dribbling her way to an open shot, she was off-target. UMass was also unable to convert two penalty corners.

Tagliente said that a great deal of her team’s offensive inefficiencies were due to Richmond junior goaltender Anna Zarkoski, who saved three shots on Saturday and now has a .606 save percentage this season.

“Their goalkeeper is outstanding,” Tagliente said. “She is on the Junior National Under-21 team so obviously, she is quite talented.”

Tagliente was disappointed with the way her team held the ball around midfield saying they held it there too much.

“Probably the biggest disappointing part of the game was just how often we were caught in possession at our midfield because it is Richmond and they really commit a lot of numbers around the ball and they get difficult,” Tagliente said.

Tagliente also added that her team did not play very well together.

“We looked to go 1-on-1 too much and needed to use each other a little more and combine,” Tagliente said.

Although Tagliente was dissatisfied with her team’s offensive effort, she said her defense looked stellar. Specifically, she was impressed with the defensive penalty corner unit.

“We were really sound in (penalty corners) and held them in check with that,” Tagliente said. “I thought our defensive structure, in terms of our shape structure and tackling were definitely outstanding.”

Ultimately, Tagliente said that the key to defeating Richmond is to pressure their ball-handlers, but UMass was unable to do so.

“You need to apply a lot of pressure on them and help and cause them to create turnovers, which we did at points, but we did not do it enough,” Tagliente said.

Massachusetts will be back in action on Thursday against Syracuse at Garber Field.

Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]