UMass field hockey readies for tough tests against Stanford, Boston College

By Tyler Fiedler

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Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team faces a tough weekend against two collegiate powerhouses in Stanford and Boston College.

Friday, the Minutewomen will welcome Stanford to Gladchuk Sports Complex. The Cardinals have had some tough games this season. Coming into Friday, Stanford stands at 2-4 on the year but has faced three top 10 teams in the Division I field hockey rankings. Losses against Connecticut, Boston College and Syracuse have hurt their season but has shown how good of a team Stanford can be – losing by one in two of the three games while hanging tough 3-1 against the Orange, the No. 1 team in the country.

“(Stanford) is a really high paced, high skilled team,” UMass coach Amy Robertson said. “They’ve played some really good teams and it will be a good test for us.”

Stanford has played their opponents extremely evenly through six games – scoring 11 goals while surrendering 11 to its opposition. Their goals per game are also the same as their opponents on the season at 1.83 goals per game and goals against. However, the Cardinals have outshot their opponents, but only by four goals.

The biggest differential is Stanford being out penalty cornered 32-23 thus far. That can be a big advantage for the Minutewomen as they have 44 penalty corners while allowing 33.

“We need to put the ball where we will have the most success (on penalty corners),” Robertson said. “Stanford has a really good defense on penalty corners so we just need to have good execution.”

Izzie Delario, who was just named the Atlantic-10 player of the week, along with Melanie Kreusch, will need to be aggressive when it comes to penalty corners. Delario recorded eight points last weekend and UMass will look for the senior to continue her hot play.

“Izzie is a seasoned player with a lot of speed,” Robertson said. “I would like to see the combination of her, Sarah Hawksaw and Nicole Miller feed off each other.”

For Stanford, its offensive attack is led by freshman Jessica Welch, who leads the team with three goals and six total points.  Goalkeeper Kelsey Bing has ran into some tough opponents on the season. She is 2-4 but has a 1.81 goals against average and a .706 save percentage.

The Minutewomen and Stanford are set to faceoff Friday in Amherst at 3:00 pm.

UMass travels to BC to face No. 9 team

Sunday brings a different test for the Minutewomen as they travel to Boston to take on the Eagles.

After losing three of its first four games, BC has rebounded nicely, winning three straight to jump over the .500 mark for the first time this season. Two of the three wins have come against ranked opponents. They defeated then No. 14 Stanford, 3-2 and followed it up with a win over No. 3 North Carolina, 2-1.

It will be a challenge UMass will not shy away from.

“We need to stand our ground and step up,” Robertson said. “This is a team that is not intimidated by anyone and is up for any challenge so it is a huge opportunity for us to get to where we want to go.”

Brittany Sheenan leads the Eagles offensively. The senior has eight goals in seven games to go with two assists. Offensively, they have seven players with at least one goal.

“When playing teams with speed you have to work as a complete unit,” Robertson said. “Everyone has to do their job.”

Goalkeeper Audra Hampsch has been outstanding in net for BC. She has allowed 1.57 goals against with a .800 save percentage. The Minutewomen are getting the Eagles at the wrong time, having outscored opponents 13-4 over their last three games.

The weekend will be a big test for a young UMass team that has been playing great hockey of late.

Sunday’s game at BC is scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm.

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