UMass travels to face A-10 foe Richmond

By Matt Levine

Cade Belisle

The Massachusetts field hockey team has one goal for Saturday’s Atlantic 10 opener: defeat the team that snapped last season’s 15-game winning streak.

The No. 22 Spiders snapped the Minutewomen’s winning streak with a 1-0 decision on Oct. 28 last season.

“It is something that we have had in the back of our minds since last season,” Tagliente said. “They have always been a rival in our conference and they are someone we look forward to playing.”

The Minutewomen (5-7) concluded non-conference play with a six-game homestand that saw UMass finish 2-4.

Tagliente said that although the record is not favorable, she is proud of the way her team has been playing.

“Some leadership emerged in the group and we are still generally growing together,” she said. “We are playing the best hockey we have played all year right now and we hope to continue that.”

Tagliente added that her team needs to play with more consistency to sustain victories.

The Minutewomen have lost by one-goal margins in three games this season. They’ve also blown late leads in these games.

UMass blew an early 2-0 lead on Sept. 23 against Albany to ultimately lose, 3-2, and another two-goal lead Northeastern on Sept. 14 by falling 4-3 in overtime.

Richmond (6-4) is coming off a 2-1 victory over No. 19 William & Mary on Sunday and adds to the lengthy list of ranked team the Minutewomen have faced this season.

UMass has faced nine ranked opponents in its 12 games this season.

In the previous five meetings between these two foes, the Minutewomen have the slim advantage with a 3-2 record.

Tagliente said that she has a great deal of respect for the Spiders.

“You could argue that we are probably the two strongest teams in the conference,” she said.

Tagliente said that Richmond is so dangerous because they play an extremely unique style of field hockey that UMass doesn’t have much experience playing against.

“The structure they play is something we do not come up against a lot and that kind of presents some things for us to make us adjust what we are doing a little bit,” she said.

The Spiders’ style of play is not their only strength. According to Tagliente, the team possess an experienced unit.

“They have some veteran players that are pretty good that we will definitely respect a lot,” she said.

Junior midfielder Chelsea Davies, who leads Richmond with 17 points, headlines that list of seasoned players. Tagliente said the key of containing Davies’ playmaking abilities is to restrict the number of penalty corners they give up.

“Where she picks up most of her points are on penalty corners with her drag flick,” she said. “She is dangerous in the regular field of play, as well, but just in general, limiting penalty corners will be important for us.”

Tagliente acknowledged that Saturday’s game is a critical matchup, but she said that the key to victory depends on her team maintaining their focus and not getting caught up in the rivalry.

“It is a big game,” she said. “We are not going to diminish that fact, but we are still focused on the process and we are still focused on UMass right now.”

The contest starts at 1 p.m.

Matt Levine can be reached at [email protected]