Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Strong effort comes up short for UMass field hockey vs. No. 9 Stanford

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Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

Coming off a tough loss to Atlantic 10 rival Richmond last weekend, the Massachusetts field hockey team returned to nonconference play Sunday afternoon against national powerhouse No. 9 Stanford. In perhaps their strongest effort of the year, the Minutewomen still came up short at home in a 1-0 defeat.

Following 44 minutes of scoreless back-and-forth play, the Cardinal defense forced a turnover and raced up the field on a counterattack. Lauren Becker then dove and redirected a shot off a deflection for the only goal of the game.

“The one lapse we had was a counter,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “We had the ball for a good 10 minutes but that’s hockey. You attack, attack, attack and you get dinged up on a counter the other way.”

Sunday’s loss marked the Minutewomen’s second straight defeat and dropped them to 5-4 for the season. UMass is now 1-2 against nationally-ranked opponents in 2015.

UMass struggled on the offensive end, notching only five shots with zero coming on goal. In comparison, Stanford (7-3) recorded 17 shots, keeping Minutewomen senior goalie Sam Carlino (nine saves) busy all afternoon.

However, Tagliente said she was not overly concerned with the offensive statistics and was happy with the Minutewomen’s possession time and looks on attack.

“You got to look at the stats lightly,” Tagliente said. “I know the stats aren’t in our favor but if you look at possession time and time on attack, it’s equal, if not higher, than the other teams.”

While UMass struggled to capitalize on its offensive opportunities, its defense and Carlino’s performance in net kept the Minutewomen in the game.

UMass’ stout play in front of Carlino kept the Cardinal attack at bay for the majority of the game despite its flurry of shots. Melanie Kreusch, Cliodhna Loughlin and Shauna Rankin-Byrne led the unit.

“Our defense was super solid, I think they did a great job executing,” Tagliente said. “We finally showed, as a team, who we really are. We played great.”

“They are a really good team and I think we played the best we have all year. We finally put a good game collectively through two halves,” Carlino added. “We stood tight on them and marked up but I think we gave up more penalty corners than I would’ve liked.”

The Minutewomen were outnumbered in penalty corners Sunday 11-to-5. But the strength in the back remained resilient and held the Cardinal to zero goals off of their corner opportunities.

“We know we were going to give up some (defensive) corners,” Tagliente said. “Our corner defense was solid, it was the best defense of the year.”

Despite the loss, Tagliente said Sunday’s performance against the No. 9 team in the country was one of the Minutewomen’s best so far this season. Tagliente added that she hopes it will translate into momentum heading into the brunt of UMass’ conference schedule.

“I think we played our best game of the season,” Tagliente said. “I liked how prepared we were and our heads were screwed on tight.”

Six of the Minutewomen’s last eight games of the regular season will be against A-10 opponents. With a tough four-game road trip ahead, UMass starts this stretch against conference rival Saint Louis.

“I think we are ready to get back into A-10 play,” Tagliente said. “We grew a lot after last week and really looked internally about how we are and what we want.”

Friday’s game in Saint Louis will begin at 3 p.m.

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

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