UMass field hockey must fill void left by seven graduating seniors

By Tyler Fiedler

Recent graduates like Hannah Price (above) have left gaps in the UMass field hockey team, which are left for senior players to fill for the 2014 season (Cade Belisle, Daily Collegian)
Recent graduates like Hannah Price (above) have left gaps in the UMass field hockey team, which are left for senior players to fill for the 2014 season (Cade Belisle, Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team enters the 2014 season with a combination of youth and experience that coach Carla Tagliente hopes is the right mix in bringing the program its sixth Atlantic 10 championship in eight years.

The Minutewomen have to fill the void left by the seven graduating seniors. Five of their eight points leaders from 2013 departed, including star Hannah Prince, leaving a major hole on the offensive side of the turf. But Tagliente said she believes seniors Lauren Allymohamed, Mariajose Rodriguez and Renee Suter are ready to take on the challenge amid heightened expectations surrounding the team.

“We need to take it one day at a time, one game at a time,” Tagliente said. “It is a short term focus with a long term objective of winning A-10’s and getting far into the NCAA tournament.”

Coaching

Tagliente returns for her fourth season coaching at UMass. Her teams have won two straight A-10 titles and made it to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in 2013.

This season, Tagliente brings in two new assistant coaches in former UMass standout Shannon Taylor, who was also an assistant under Tagliente in 2012, and former Connecticut star Sarah Mansfield to round out her staff.

“Sometimes change is good, and they have hit the ground running,” Tagliente said of the two coaches. “Shannon (Taylor) has great international and positional experience and Sarah (Mansfield) is one of the most decorative goalkeepers to ever play.”

Tagliente went on to say that they have brought fresh ideas and the three have a great balance of coaching styles.

Defense

The Minutewomen’s most experienced position is their defense. It is the backbone to this team returning two starters in Allymohamed and Rodriguez who are two of only three seniors on this young squad. Allymohamed is a captain on the team and posted eight goals and 16 points last season. Rodriguez started 21 of the team’s 24 games.

Also returning is sophomore Hannah Farrell who appeared in all 24 games for the Minutewomen in 2013, starting four of them. The team will look for bigger numbers from Rodriguez and Farrell while also looking to freshmen Grace Horgan and Melanie Kreusch.

UMass’ defense allowed only 37 goals on 230 chances, leaving opponents goals per game at 1.54. The Minutewomen outshot their opponents by nearly 200 shots. By contrast, the team was third in the conference in goals allowed and goals allowed per game.

“(The) expectation is to get to the point where (defense) is our strong suit,” Tagliente said. “We have great defenders returning but need to fill the void left by the great defenders that graduated.”

Goalkeeper Sam Carlino returns for her junior season and was named to the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference team. She finished her 2013 season with a 1.47 goals against average and played with the United States national program at the 2014 Women’s National Championship.

Midfielders

Suter will man the midfield alongside last year’s leading scorer Brooke Sabia and sophomores Izzie Delario, Cliodhna Loughlin and Hailey Cockrum. This group has plenty of experience, however, with a combined 100 games played and 58 games started last season.

Both Cockrum and Loughlin contribute both on midfield and defense for the Minutewomen. They combined for seven points in 18 games played last season.

Offense might not come so easy for the Minutewomen this season as they lost a good chunk of their scoring and assist leaders from the previous season. All seven of the graduating seniors contributed on the offensive end, so the onus falls on the underclassmen to provide a lift.

Expect the majority of the offense to once again come from Sabia, who led the team in points (41) and goals (20) in 2013.

“(I) tell her not to look at numbers and statistics,” Tagliente said of Sabia. “She has a tremendous amount of natural talent, we need her.”

Forwards

Forward is the most inexperienced position for UMass despite three upperclassmen playing up front. The Minutewomen lost all of their starting forwards from a season ago, but junior Allie Sabia, who contributes both at forward and on defense, will take some of the load off the young players.

Juniors Courtney Spleen and Tory Berry will be asked to tackle a major role in the upcoming season along with redshirt freshman Katie Clark and freshmen Sarah Hawkshaw and Nicole Kuerzi. Sophomore Nicole Miller will look to contribute more in the scoring end after four goals in 24 games as a freshman.

The Minutewomen led the conference last year in shots per game, goals per game, goals scored and scoring average.

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Tyler_Fiedler.