McTear a potential spark as UMass attack looks to get back in rhythm

The midfielder looks to spark an offense off to a slow start

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McTear a potential spark as UMass attack looks to get back in rhythm

Joe Frank

Joe Frank

Joe Frank

By Tim Sorota, Collegian Staff

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Players on the Massachusetts field hockey team will tell you that through their first four regular season games, their offense has not reached expectations.

The Minutewomen (2-2) were shut out in each of their first two games and needed overtime to break a 0-0 tie against a Dartmouth team they had outshot 15-3 by the end of regulation. But when the UMass attack has gotten going so far, there has been one player who has been the clear catalyst: junior midfielder Georgie McTear.

McTear paced the team with 11 shots during UMass’ Ivy League weekend sweep, notching an assist against Yale and the overtime game winner against Dartmouth. As the Minutewomen have struggled to score, with only five goals in the first four games, more such efforts will be needed to get the offense going against No. 20 Albany on Saturday and No. 10 Harvard on Monday.

But doing that won’t be easy.

The Great Danes allowed just two regulation goals in their first three games. The Crimson have given up five in three games, but three of those came in a loss at the hands of No. 4 Connecticut.

McTear, an Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference selection from 2018, believes that offensive success comes down to working together and playing as one and her team has practiced just that.

“Team chemistry is something we’ve really worked on during the preseason,” McTear said. “And I think our chemistry is really good this year and it’s helping us on the field. It is helping us link up and we know how each other plays which is elevating our game.”

That cohesiveness will once again be put to the test this weekend. This year’s starting lineup features six new players, including freshmen Steph Gotwalls and Emilie Keij. Both are looking for their first collegiate point coming into their first home games at UMass.

McTear, along with midfielder Sophie de Jonge and captain Lucy Cooper, will be looked at by their teammates to not only spark the offense but also provide crucial leadership this weekend. The lineups for both Albany and Harvard are filled with veterans who have played a lot of field hockey.

When her teammates are looking at her, McTear knows exactly how she is going to respond.

“I am quite vocal on the pitch,” she said, “so I try to encourage and motivate people, which will hopefully allow them to pick their game up and then [have] a train effect where everyone else is picking it up.”

As has been the case through the early stages of this year, the offense will be faced with adapting to new forwards coach Pietie Coetzee-Turner’s offensive scheme, which has proven somewhat problematic through the first four games.

But Cooper, a first-team all A-10 selection last year, believes that once the team fully grasps Coetzee-Turner’s strategy, the attack will be a well-oiled machine.

“Having a new coach, we’ve played a completely different structure,” Cooper said, “and once we get the hang of that, it will really help our offense going forward.”

The Minutewomen get their next chance at 3 p.m. on Saturday against Albany before Harvard comes to town on Monday at 5 p.m. Both games will take place at Gladchuk Field Hockey Complex.

Tim Sorota can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @TimSorota.