UMass field hockey full of mixed emotions after Senior Day

By Matt Levine

For the No. 18 Massachusetts field hockey team, Senior Day on Sunday afternoon at Garber Field produced joy as seven seniors took part in an emotionally charged pregame ceremony.
But after the Minutewomen defeated Lock Haven, 4-0, to secure second place in the Atlantic 10, the mood changed took on more of a bittersweet tone.

“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” senior forward Nicole Cordero said. “I know consciously that it is my last game, but emotionally it does not feel like it. I am just trying to hold on to every second I have.”

With the A-10 tournament approaching this weekend, senior forward Kim Young said that she is looking into the future after winning her last regular season game at Garber Field.

“I am excited about it,” Young said. “I am really glad we won and the seniors are definitely pumped and ready to go into our postseason.”

UMass coach Carla Tagliente was full of praise for her senior class and said her team is going to go as far as the seniors take it.

“It is a little bit of mixed emotions, but it does not end here and they know that and they are driving the ship right now and pushing the team on,” Tagliente said.

For Cordero, the day felt strange not only because it was her last regular season game at Garber Field, but also because of how fast her college career seemed to transpire, from arriving to Amherst as a freshman to the present day.

“I was saying to some of the girls, it was really weird because you come here as a freshman and you think that your four years are not going to fly by at all even though everybody always tells you they do and you prepare for all of the seniors above you and now it’s finally your turn and it is kind of surreal,” Cordero said.

Tagliente said that she is impressed of the level of leadership the senior class has brought all season.

The beginning of the season was a rocky, up-and-down battle, but UMass is now on the fast track heading into this weekend’s conference tournament. The Minutewomen are winners of seven straight and are playing their best field hockey at the right time, which Tagliente credits a lot to senior leadership.

“Through their good experiences and bad, they have really set the goals for this team and have been consistent and have had consistent leadership on and off the field,” Tagliente said. “We forget sometimes that there were struggle points early on in the year with some of our non-conference games and those guys really buckled down and got this team back on track and kept them believing and I credit that to them.”

Tagliente said that what makes her senior group so special is how unique each of them are.

“They are very different and I think that adds to their closeness in a way,” Tagliente said. “They celebrate the differences in each other and it unifies them and they are a fun group.

“I would not say any one of them is a carbon copy of the other one,” she continued. “They all have different interests, they all come from different backgrounds, but they all have a high amount of respect for each other on and off the field and I think that makes them really special.”

Cordero, who is originally from Chicago, said that she doesn’t know what she would do without her teammates and coaches.

“UMass field hockey is my family,” she said.

Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]