UMass field hockey hosts Saint Louis in A-10 opener Friday afternoon

By Tyler Fiedler

Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)
(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey is anxious to get back on the field after a tough 2-1 loss to No. 4 Connecticut last Friday. This weekend, the Minutewomen will get their first taste of Atlantic 10 action as Saint Louis comes to Amherst Friday afternoon.

“(We’re) just improving on the things we have done well and improving on the areas that need to be fixed is our focus right now,” Minutewomen coach Amy Robertson said. “We are looking to get better each game.”

Saint Louis, though struggling to begin the season, won its last game 4-1 over Missouri State. However, the Billiken’s (1-4) lost the first four games of the season by a combined score 31-3, including an 11-0 loss to Iowa.

“It is a really exciting game for us being our first [Atlantic 10] game,” Robertson said. “We are working on improving. I feel like some of our best minutes of hockey were against UConn so it is about getting better.”

The Billiken’s have struggled creating any sort of offense this season, being outshot 138-40 through their first five games. On the other hand, the Minutewomen (2-3) have outshot their opponents 75-58.

Despite the high number in attempts, converting is something the Minutewomen have struggled with so far this season. Their shot percentage is a mere .173 (13-for-75), while their opponents are shooting a clip of .190 percent. That percentage is right on par with the Billikens, who have a .175 shot percentage compared to their opponents’ .232.

The Minutewomen have found the most success this season when they have been aggressively attacking the net. UMass has 42 shots on goal and average 15 shots per game, while Saint Louis has 17 shots on goal, averaging eight shots per game.

But Robertson is not ready to write off the Billiken.

“We are playing a team that is really hungry right now,” said Robertson. “We just need to play our game and take it to the next level.”

During its last game, penalty corners hurt UMass even though it has the edge 30-28 over their opponents in that category this season. The Billiken defense has struggled stopping the opposing team from getting penalty corners. They do, however, do a good job preventing teams from scoring off their corners. Saint Louis has allowed 48 penalty corners, but only allowed five goals.

Melanie Kreusch is a crucial part of the Minutewomen penalty corner attack. The defenseman has three goals on the year, all off of corners. Nicole Kuerzi is tied with Kreusch for the team lead in goals. It will be important for UMass to get ahead early.

“(Our offense) needs to attack space, get good scoring opportunities and be in good goal-scoring positions,” Robertson said. “We need be in positions to get a rebound.”

Carly Kissinger and Molly Feid lead Saint Louis in scoring, as Kissinger has a pair of goals and assists on the season while Feid has two goals and an assist of her own. Jessie Bryan has been in net for the majority of the season for the Billikens, owning a 1-3 record while allowing 5.75 goals a game with a .589 save percentage.

For the Minutewomen, Emily Hazard has been solid in net. As the only goalkeeper on the roster, it is up to Hazard to lead UMass back to the NCAA tournament. She has allowed 2.19 goals a game with a .656 save percentage.

“Emily’s one of those players who’s always looking to get better,” Robertson said. “We really rely on her. She has been phenomenal this season.”

Friday’s game against Saint Louis is scheduled for 3p.m. at Gladchuk Sports Complex.

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