Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass field hockey wraps up special season

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

For the Massachusetts field hockey team, the bar was set high from Day 1.

Winning the Atlantic 10 title for the second straight year and getting back to the NCAA Tournament was something every player had on their mind, and anything short of that would be a disappointment. In the end, the Minutewomen achieved these goals and then some, posting the most wins in a single season since 2000 with 19.

UMass coach Carla Tagliente, who has now wrapped up her third season in Amherst, believes her team far exceeded what the expectations were at the beginning of the year.

“I think the team knew what they were capable of when the season started,” she said. “This was their goal from the beginning, so I am extremely proud of them. I think having the most wins since 2000 is a testament to the team and shows all the hard work that has been put in by this program.”

With the win in the first round of the tournament on Saturday against Virginia, UMass put together one of its longest winning streaks since the 2010-11 season, winning 12 straight games. During this streak, the Minutewomen scored 52 goals while only allowing 14. They also went 7-0 in conference play.

Perhaps one of the brightest spots of the season was the emergence of sophomore Brooke Sabia, who scored 20 goals in 22 games and won this year’s Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year award. Tagliente thinks Sabia really came into her own at the start of the season.

“To score as many goals as she did is truly an accomplishment in itself,” she said. “We have a number of young leaders emerging from different positions, especially Brooke.”

Besides Sabia, Tagliente said that a number of underclassmen stepped up this year, including A-10 Rookie of the Year winner Charlotte Verelst, who scored the game-winner in overtime against the Cavaliers.

Tagliente was also encouraged by the development of goalkeeper Sam Carlino and Lauren Allymohamed.

“Charlotte may not have had the goal production Brooke had, but she had an outstanding postseason, and her play against Virginia was just phenomenal,” Tagliente said. “Sam Carlino is really coming into her own and Lauren (Allymohamed) is continuing to play great, so I’m really excited about what we have coming up.”

However, there will be some key departures next year for UMass with seniors Hannah Prince and Alexa Sikalis graduating. Sikalis ended the season with 20 assists and averaged the second-most assists per game in the entire nation. Also graduating will be Mel Sutherland, Molly MacDonnell, Alyssa Ineson and Lindsay Bowman.

Tagliente said that one quality that will be missed from this group of seniors is the healthy competitiveness they brought to every practice and game.

“With that group, they’ll compete every day and bring intensity that drives the team,” she said. “They don’t accept anything less than giving it your all and they were the group that set the bar high. To have such a strong core of players leaving is going to be really difficult to replace.”

Just like last year, the Minutewomen ran through their A-10 competition and picked up several accolades at the end of the year. Sikalis, Sabia, Prince and Allymohammed were all named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team, while Verelst made the Second Team. Tagliente also won Coach of the Year, making it her second straight award at UMass.

Once the offseason is under way, Tagliente will be focused on replacing critical pieces to her team, especially those who played out of the backfield and midfield.

“Solidifying those two areas of the field will be important, and we’ll have to see what works for us,” she said. “We need to go back to basics a little and build up our defensive group because we are losing one of our critical passers out of the back.”

Although the season ended on a sour note with a 4-1 loss to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the offseason is something Tagliente and the rest of the young Minutewomen are looking forward to.

“It’s going to be an exciting time for us,” Tagliente said. “I think this is a young group with a lot of potential and athleticism, so it’s all about getting those critical players motivated for next year and repeating for a third time.”

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected].

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