Sam Carlino remains a rock in net for UMass field hockey

By Joey Saade

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

This season hasn’t unfolded the way many anticipated for the Massachusetts field hockey team.

Coming off their second consecutive run to the NCAA tournament last fall (19-5 record), expectations remained high for the rising Minutewomen program.

However, through mid-October, UMass finds itself grinding through an inconsistent 6-8 start to the season (4-1 in Atlantic 10 Conference play).

But Sam Carlino isn’t worried.

The standout junior goalkeeper said she firmly believes that her team is better than what the record shows.

None of the Minutewomen’s eight losses have come by more than two goals — five have been decided by only one tally.

“We’ve been (close) in every single game that we’ve played this year,” Carlino said. “We’re growing each game.”

What is one of the main reasons UMass has remained competitive amidst a relatively rocky start?

Look no further than Carlino herself.

Through 14 games, the 5-foot-4 goalie has posted a 1.78 goals against average and a .745 save percentage – a workhorse performance that UMass coach Carla Tagliente calls the captain’s best season of her impressive career.

“She’s one person who’s got her T’s crossed and I’s dotted,” Tagliente said of the Kennet Square, Pennsylvania native. “You need those people on the team; and she does that for us.”

It’s not just the stats that define Carlino’s impact, either.

Prior to the start of the season, she was elected as a tri-captain by her teammates, along with seniors Renee Suter and Lauren Allymohamed.

The players believe in her natural ability to lead. Her confidence doesn’t waver and she expects herself to be consistent. Her competitiveness is unquestionable.

“She’s really one of the most competitive people we’ve had on this team in a long time,” Tagliente said. “She just drives and drives and pushes and pushes for success…and that’s critical.”

Carlino’s teammates echo Tagliente’s high praise toward the defensive anchor.

Allymohamed, the four-year starting defensive center-back, has played right in front of Carlino the past three seasons. The senior captain has grown to love having Carlino as the last resort behind her.

“She makes a decision and just goes with it,” Allymohamed said. “She’s a very instinctive player. She’s going, all guns blazing, 100 percent.”

As for their defensive relationship, Allymohamed called it unique.

“It’s love-hate,” Allymohamed said with a laugh. “During games she’ll be screaming to me about something even if it has nothing to do with field hockey and I’ll keep replying.”

“But I love it. … It’s funny.”

Carlino’s intangibles and skill set “can’t go unnoticed,” according to Tagliente.

It’s also hard to ignore the amount of success she’s enjoyed in her career.

In the summer of 2013, after only one full season of collegiate play, Carlino was selected as one of only 18 student-athletes and two goalkeepers in the country to play for the United States Under-21 National team in the Junior World Cup, which took place in Germany.

In that tournament, Carlino started a match against the Netherlands – the defending international champions – which she labeled as the most amazing experience of her life.

“I was freaking out about it, of course,” Carlino said.

This past summer, Carlino played for the USA Red Team at the 2014 Women’s National Championship.

In her first two seasons with the Minutewomen, Carlino’s presence in the net was a major influence in UMass’ consecutive A-10 Championships and back-to-back runs to the NCAA tournament.

That experience, and success, provides a wealth of knowledge to spread around, according to Carlino.

“I knew going in that responsibility was part of it,” Carlino said. “(My teammates) really look up to me on and off the field.”

While the Minutewomen are in a relatively unfamiliar position, the year is far from over. Tagliente said that she preaches her team’s focus on the long haul.

Her goalkeeper has thrived with that same mindset.

“I just come out and play every day. That’s what I love to do,” Carlino said. “I’m here to play. I want to make it back there (NCAA tournament)…That’s what I love to do.”

Joey Saade can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jsaade1225.