Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Momentum favoring UMass field hockey following Friday win in A-10 opener

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Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Last year, the Massachusetts field hockey team entered Atlantic 10 conference play following an unusually slow start to the season, going 2-7 in its opening stretch of nonconference games.

This year, however, the Minutewomen flipped the switch, beginning 4-2 against nonconference opponents and placing themselves in a much better position entering Friday’s A-10 opener against Saint Joseph’s.

This momentum was evident against the Hawks Friday afternoon, as UMass won 3-1.

Sarah Hawkshaw put the Minutewomen on the scoreboard first in the 15th minute with a rocket of a goal from just inside the top of the circle that landed just under the top crossbar to give UMass a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Minutewomen later scored an insurance goal with under four minutes left to play as Izzie Delario notched UMass’ third goal in a traffic jam consisting of players from both teams.

Hawkshaw’s goal created the necessary momentum for UMass to win and Delario’s tally sealed the Minutewomen’s third straight win.

As UMass’ streak of success increases, its play has continued to become stronger and more consistent. Minutewomen coach Carla Tagliente said she believes Friday’s game against Saint Joseph’s demonstrated her team’s improvement over the past few weeks.

“We are getting better game-by-game and I’m happy about that,” Tagliente said. “Last week with (UMass) Lowell and Dartmouth, we were going to have a ton of space with those teams and we knew that we weren’t going to have a ton of space today, so we made great adjustments.”

Miller added that the Minutewomen really stretched out the passing lanes for the majority of the contest, which allowed UMass to find multiple scoring chances.

“In previous games we were all compacted in the middle. We were really focused on being stretched to the baseline and going and cutting back into the middle,” Miller said.

Tagliente said she believes a win against a conference team like the Hawks is huge for the continued growth and momentum of her team and demonstrates how her team has developed.

“Saint Joe’s is a good team, a team that will finish top four in the league and will be in the tournament,” Tagliente said. “They are one of the better teams in the league in the conference.”

However, Miller made it clear that while the victory over Saint Joseph’s definitely showed improvement, other areas slightly slipped. In particular, she said the Minutewomen must continue to convert on more scoring opportunities.

“We might have fallen in some areas. We had six goals last week and stronger passing last week, but it varies every week,” Miller said. “You never know what the other team is going to bring and what you are going to do.”

Tagliente shared similar beliefs that the Minutewomen must continue to sure up different areas of their game. She noted that discipline on defense is another area of particular focus.

“Our defensive organization down the stretch led to us giving up a chippy foul and unprofessional tackle, which led to a goal for them,” Tagliente said. “While it has gotten better every game, it has probably cost us a whole other game.”

UMass continues its A-10 schedule Sunday against rival Richmond, a team that defeated the Minutewomen in last year’s conference tournament finals.

Matthew Zackman can be reached at [email protected]

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