Walking through a week of practice with UMass field hockey

By Matthew Zackman

(Alex Aritan/Daily Collegian)
(Alex Aritan/Daily Collegian)

After six games, the Massachusetts field hockey team is searching for consistency.

With narrow losses to No. 1 Maryland, Temple, No. 13 Boston College and California coupled with wins against Maine and UMass-Lowell, UMass (2-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10) has yet to find the form that led them to an A-10 Championship and NCAA tournament appearance last season.

The only way to find that success again is to start winning games. For the Minutewomen, the process of putting wins on the board ultimately starts with more determined practice sessions.

UMass coach Carla Tagliente typically schedules practices on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as the Minutewomen predominantly play games on Friday and Sunday.

“Mondays are usually off, depending on where we are in the season,” Tagliente said. “Farther along in the season, if we need two days, we might give two days off here and there.”

How the team chooses to spend practice time changes throughout the week. Early in the week, focus is placed on scrimmaging and repetition, just to get the team playing. Later in the week, more emphasis is placed on strategy and scouting.

“We have been playing a lot lately, just because we are so young and need to grow and get experience on the field. But if we were a bit further along, a Tuesday practice would be working on something that we thought we were deficient on from the past weekend,” Tagliente said.

After Tuesday practices, the Minutewomen supplement their practices with weight-lifting sessions.

“Right now [we lift] one [day a week]. But if we had a different game schedule… ideally we would get in two.”

Tagliente made it clear that in-season workouts have a different focus than offseason ones.

“In season is very much core strength, hip mobility, flexibility, not really power or a lot of load. So the main focus is…injury prevention,” Tagliente said.

Tuesdays for UMass are generally geared towards conditioning, and by Thursday the team will cut down to fewer drills. Finally, after their shorter Thursday practices, the Minutewomen will hit the video room and watch film on their upcoming opponents.

While UMass is still searching for the consistency it’s been accustomed to over the past several years, Tagliente has noticed that her practices have improved the overall attitude and competitive vibe her team has been exhibiting.

“This past week of practice going into Cal, we made huge improvements in terms of game play. We focused on playing a lot in the week and scrimmaging a lot. We had some players step up and grow in certain positions that they had not been accustomed to, which is great,” Tagliente said.

She added that “we can still work on situational things within game play, have small focuses…but certain defensive and attacking situations in our attack and defense 25 have improved.”

The Minutewomen will see just how far they’ve come this weekend. They host Connecticut on Friday at 2 p.m. and Northeastern on Sunday at 4 p.m.

 Matthew Zackman can be reached at [email protected]