UMass field hockey’s defense looks to continue big role on the road

Minutewomen head to Virginia for two conference match ups

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UMass field hockey’s defense looks to continue big role on the road

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Tyler Movsessian-Murphy, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts field hockey team had a stellar defensive performance last weekend, only allowing one goal, three penalty corners and 10 shots during 140 minutes of play, resulting in a 3-0 shutout over Davidson and a 1-0 loss to Providence.

Despite splitting last weekend’s series, UMass (5-7, 3-1 Atlantic 10) feels that it’s doing a better job defending as a team, which will be critical during two difficult road contests against Richmond and VCU this weekend.

“While we’ve been strong on defense all year, this weekend we were able to alleviate some defensive pressure by improving our midfield play,” said coach Barb Weinberg. “When we’re playing our best defense it is all players on the field contributing as one unit.”

Currently, the Minutewomen sit in third in the conference standings behind No. 9 Saint Joseph’s and this Sunday’s opponent in the Rams (6-4, 3-0 A-10).

“Both teams have a solid midfield, so we’ll need to control their central players and play great one-on-one defense to win the ball higher up the field,” said Weinberg.

UMass’ defensive success has been led by two key factors this season. One of these is its ability to limit penalty corners. Junior midfielder Sara Davis has been stepping up into a leadership position on defense, and she has been a key force in eliminating the opponents’ opportunities.

“We’ve been mindful of our feel in the circle and we’ve been keeping our sticks on the ground as much as possible,” Davis said. We’ve been working on drills where we are forced to keep our stick on the ground, even during conditioning drills.”

Another key to the Minutewomen’s defensive success has been their goalkeeping. After the 2017 season, redshirt senior Emily Hazard graduated but freshman Johanna von dem Borne has stepped right in and been stellar in her first season.

As of September 28, the freshman from Essen, Germany is currently tied for first in the A-10 in saves per game and is second in the country among freshmen.

“It’s a give and take relationship between me and the defense,” said von dem Borne. “We are a unit. I do what they need me to do, and they do what I need them to do. Building a greater trust and relationship in each other will help us do better each match.”

The action begins on Friday at 3 p.m. in Richmond where they take on the Spiders (3-8, 1-1 A-10), then 1 p.m. Sunday against VCU.

Tyler Movsessian-Murphy can be reached at [email protected]