Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass goalie Sam Carlino continues to write her own script

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Sam Carlino knew what was at stake when she took the field Wednesday for the Massachusetts field hockey team’s NCAA tournament play-in game versus Kent State –the hovering possibility that this could be her last game ever in an UMass uniform, or the chance to play No. 1 Syracuse in the second round of the tournament.

It was too much for her to resist. She took matters into her own hands, making seven saves in the second half to keep Kent State at bay in the Minutewomen’s 1-0 win.

UMass needed Carlino to step up, and she knew that.

“She’s been here before, she’s a senior and she played liked a senior today,” coach Carla Tagliente said. “We couldn’t have asked for more from her.”

Late in the game, the Minutewomen (12-8, 5-3 Atlantic 10) faced their toughest test of the day. With the Golden Flashes (11-9, 5-1 Mid-American Conference) putting on the pressure during a late attack in the final five minutes of the game, Carlino was there to stop any chances Kent State had.

“I made sure that everyone else was calm, there was a lot of noise and a lot of panic so I just wanted to keep everything calm,” Carlino said. “Just staying calm was the main goal.”

And calm they were. After not recording a shot on net in the first half, the Golden Flashes came at Carlino in the second half with eight total shots. However, none would find its way into the Minutewomen’s net, with the senior finishing with seven saves.

With just under three minutes left to play and the Minutewomen clinging to their lead, Carlino made the biggest saves of the season under heavy pressure after Anne Dijkstra received a green card with two minutes, 55 seconds left in regulation.

Kent State capitalized with UMass being a player down. Facing heavy pressure and a loaded box, Carlino made a save, and 10 seconds later made an additional outstanding stick save to keep the Minutewomen ahead.

“The corner shot I didn’t make the decision early enough to get down,” Carlino said. “I got lucky and made the save, it happens sometimes.”

The tightly contested game played in favor of UMass. Its strong defense and stalwart in net gives the team tremendous confidence heading into a tough matchup against Syracuse.

“The last three or four games, I never felt like we were going to lose,” Minutewomen goal scorere Izzie Delario said. “(Sam) definitely came in clutch, she really prepares our defense for when the ball starts coming.”

Carlino might have stood out from the rest of the Minutewomen with her play in net, but it was the early pressure UMass put on that became a difference in the game. In the 23rd minute of the first half, the Minutewomen were finally able to breakthrough.

Coming off the insertion of the penalty corner, Delario was in the right spot at the right time. She deflected a rebound into the center of the net that gave Carlino and UMass the only goal it would need.

Although Carlino did not face much pressure in the opening half, it did not seem to faze her, as she was ready when the time and the pressure picked up.

“Carla (Tagliente) has been reiterating that it is two halves of hockey, a full 70 minutes,” Carlino said. “You just got to stay in the game the whole time.”

With the win, the Minutewomen will now travel to Syracuse Saturday for a chance at revenge after falling to the Orange 4-0 earlier in the season. They have the opportunity to keep writing their own script, which will start and finish with Carlino.

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

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