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

Close games have doomed UMass field hockey, but Sam Carlino remains a bright spot in net

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

After another heartbreaking weekend, the Massachusetts field hockey team heads into Atlantic 10 Conference play in a direction that wasn’t expected at the beginning of the season.

Conference play starts Friday for the Minutewomen (2-6) and a change in competition could not have come quicker. UMass fell to Connecticut and Northeastern over the weekend 2-0 and 2-1, respectively. That speaks to the Minutewomen’s season as a whole: close games that could have gone either way.

“We are right in every game we just have to push through that threshold,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “Most of these games could have gone either way.”

And she’s right. In UMass’ first eight games of the season, they have not lost by more than two goals. The biggest losses of the season have been 2-0 shutouts to No. 5 UConn, No. 13 Boston College and Temple.

The Minutewomen suffered some crushing defeats in their six losses this season, but if they can take anything positive from these defeats, it’s that they have been in every single game, Tagliente said.

A reoccurring theme this season is UMass’ deficient offense and its inability to capitalize on scoring chances. The Minutewomen have scored just four times in six losses and haven’t capitalized on more than a single goal in any of them.

However, there is hope for the team in the form of goalkeeper Sam Carlino. The standout junior is having her best season to date with UMass and has kept the team competitive in every contest.

Carlino has a 1.99 goal against average and a .775 save percentage so far in 2014 and has played every minute in net for the Minutewomen. In addition, Carlino appeared this summer with the United States red team at the 2014 Women’s National Championship.

“She has grown quite a bit and brings more experience and organization to this team,” Tagliente said. “Her consistency is a lot higher right now then in previous seasons.”

Her consistency is key, according to Tagliente. “It is what is keeping us in games,” she said.

With Carlino manning the back of the UMass defense, the Minutewomen know they have a shot to win every game. It’s just a matter of winning some of the close games.

“I do not have the magic solution,” Tagliente said. “It is the small things and the belief and trust we have in each other that will get us over the hump.”

The Minutewomen have been consistent in their up-tempo style of play this year. But the aggressive offense hasn’t translated into offensive firepower yet.

However, Tagliente said that she isn’t too concerned about her team heading into A-10 play this upcoming weekend, noting it’s a chance to offer UMass a fresh start.

“(I’m) not really too worried about our team,” Tagliente said. “I know I am excited and I am sure the team’s excited as well.”

Strong play in the A-10 can give UMass a berth in the NCAA tournament even after its slow start. If the team can find success, the ultimate goal entering the season still awaits the Minutewomen on the other side, according to Tagliente.

“If we do well in A-10 play and then in the A-10 tournament, then it is an avenue to the NCAA tournament,” Tagliente said. “It is a different part of the season and we are all excited.”

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at [email protected].

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