UMass remains undefeated at home after 2-0 win over Providence

Minutewomen’s revamped set plays lead to both goals on Sunday

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

An explosive second half performance helped the Massachusetts field hockey team defeat Providence 2-0 on Sunday and remain undefeated at home this season.

No. 22 UMass (6-3, 1-0 Atlantic 10) came out with an aggressive game plan that put the Friars (5-5, 1-1 Big East) on their heels. Once the Minutewomen settled in and began controlling the pace of play, offensive chances started to come as a result.

“Providence is always such a strong opponent,” UMass coach Barb Weinberg said. “We match up really well against them and it’s always really tough competition. So, we knew that going into it, and I’m really proud of the team’s performance with the physicality.”

In the second quarter, UMass ran a set corner play with a new addition to the mix. Rather than setting Georgie McTear up for her patented shot from the top of the circle, Weinberg ran the offense through Josie Rossbach. That switch paid dividends for the Minutewomen, who converted on the penalty corner with a Rossbach shot deflected in by Hannah de Gast.

“We had an individual [session] with Josie last week and we figured out she has a great corner shot which we hadn’t seen before,” Weinberg said. “So, we just started training it, she got out and did the reps and was able to put some really good shots on goal.”

UMass converted on a second penalty corner in the fourth quarter on a similar play to give it a two-goal cushion down the stretch —crucial in an evenly matched contest against Providence.

Having extra time to prepare heading into their matchup with the Friars allowed for time to shake up the penalty corner unit which started the season strong but wasn’t executing well as of late. Weinberg wanted more from the unit, and between the changes made and the time spent drilling in practice, she got just that.

“We’re getting almost everyone involved which is really cool,” Rossbach said. “I mean, corners take forever to run through now in practice because everyone’s involved, but it’s really cool to see the depth.”

Despite the scoring and shot output, the Minutewomen did not play smooth field hockey to open the game. The first quarter saw both teams struggle with sloppy play, watching the ball go out of bounds on errant passes and slipping and falling on the field. But UMass fought through that slow start and didn’t allow it to linger into the following quarters in the same way it did for Providence.

The Minutewomen’s fight becomes even more intensified when playing at home, as the “protect the ‘Chuk” mentality continues to grow in each player that steps onto the turf on gameday. And that mentality was on full display when UMass fought through some careless play and remained relatively dominant through 60 minutes against a competitive Friars team.

“[The players] take so much pride in that,” Weinberg said. “They wanted to go 4-0 today, they said that off the bat and then the coaches had to reel it in and talk about the process a little bit, because it’s not just going to happen. They’re a really strong opponent.”

UMass has another chance to “protect the ‘Chuk” on Friday at 3 p.m. when it takes on Virginia Commonwealth in an A-10 matchup.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected]du. Follow him on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.