Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass beats Kent State 1-0 to advance to first round of NCAA tournament

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Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts’ field hockey team’s quest in the NCAA tournament will continue after an exhilarating 1-0 victory over Kent State in a play-in game Wednesday afternoon.

Izzie Delario’s goal in the 23rd minute was the only one of the match, and it set the tone for a low scoring defensive battle. Positioned on the left side of the net, Delario secured the rebound from a penalty corner, juggled the ball a couple of times and promptly sent a shot into the center of the net past the reach of Golden Flashes goalie Andrea Rinehart.

Delario described the goal as a basic re-direct, but for the Minutewomen (12-8, 5-3 Atlantic 10) it represented a game-winner that extended their NCAA tournament dreams.

“The ball came off of the goalie’s pads and I just redirected the ball to kind of my front right and shot it from behind my back,” Delario said.

The junior forward/midfielder recorded three of UMass’ 14 shots. Statistically, the Minutewomen outplayed Kent State (11-9, 5-1 Mid-American Conference) as they outnumbered their opponent in shots, 14-8, and penalty corners, 6-3.

Senior goalkeeper Sam Carlino came up huge for UMass in the last five minutes of the game. Despite not have any shots taken on her in the first half, Carlino was very busy in the second half of the game, making seven saves in the final frame.

Carlino recognized that not seeing any shots in the first half is just part of the game, and that it’s important to remain focused.

“You just got to stay in the game the whole time. Even though I did not have any shots on me, they still got in the circle and penetrated the defense,” she said. “I still think that even though I didn’t get any shots, I was still focused the whole time.”

Minutewomen coach Carla Tagliente acknowledged the lack of action in the first half could have taken Carlino out of the game in a mental way. However, Tagliente’s trust in Carlino paid off, as the goalkeeper was exceptional in the latter stages of the contest.

“They barely got into the circle in the first half and for Carlino to stay alert and awake and get her first touch. … That’s hard for a goalie,” Tagliente said.

For the Minutewomen, Carlino was ready when her team needed her the most.

“It was a little scary there at the end, but we found a way to win and that’s all that counts,” she said.

Tagliente was very proud of Carlino’s poise and confidence in the final minutes of the contest.

“Sam stepped up and did a great job. … She was really big at the end. She changed her angles and stepped out further, she made some plays at the end to really close the game out,” Tagliente said.

UMass was only able to capitalize on one out of six penalty corners, although the one proved to be the decisive blow.

Tagliente noted that Kent State’s penalty corner defense is very strong and admitted that they tried multiple penalty corner set-ups.

“Choosing the right set-up is like a little chess game. In the week leading up, we watched their defense corners and knew what we were doing,” she said. “Watching their MAC finals, their goalie had a great MAC final. They do a great job … so we knew we needed to be on our toes.”

Tagliente added: “Sometimes we can shoot straight and sometimes we can’t … so it’s a little of chess game trying to figure out what works.”

The Minutewomen will now head to New York to take on top-seeded Syracuse this Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Matthew Zackman can be reached at [email protected]

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