‘The future is incredibly bright’: UMass’ young core a bright spot after a gloomy ending

Freshmen stand out in Atlantic 10 tournament

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Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian (2022)

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

The end result of the Massachusetts field hockey team’s 2022 season finale was not the one it had hoped for.

On Saturday, UMass (14-6, 6-1 Atlantic 10) lost 0-3 on its home turf to Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 Championship. Emotions were high on the sad day, but head coach Barb Weinberg assured that the sun would shine for this team again.

“I think the future is incredibly bright,” Weinberg said. “Our seniors as I’ve just said to them, they’ve done a phenomenal job building this program. This has been five years in the making and we have most of them returning other than Bella Ianni, and obviously with talented newcomers in the program, I think the future is very bright.”

The shutout loss at home was a tough pill to swallow for a team that had high aspirations of going the distance and winning the trophy this season.

Regardless of the outcome, the players and coaches held their heads high. With many of the seniors returning for another season, and a talented, hard-working, and ambitious young core whose stock is only set to rise, the UMass field hockey program is in good hands.

One of those talented freshmen is Mali Herberhold, who was a standout for the Minutewomen. Coming from Rosenheim, Germany, the rookie midfielder’s accolades speak for themselves, as Herberhold was awarded A-10 rookie of the year. Herberhold’s eight assists were tied for the second-most in the conference, while her seven goals were one shy from tying teammate Jess Beech for the team-high.

Myrte van Herwijnen held down the fort in goal, starting all 20 games for UMass as a freshman. She compiled 85 saves on the season, good for best in the conference, and averaged 4.25 saves per game en route to being named to the A-10 All-Championship team. Having van Herwijnen in the backline gave the Minutewomen a sigh of relief, knowing they could count on her to be the anchor of the team.

“Mytre [van Herwijnen] is great,” Steph Gottwals said. “She’s such a hard worker. She knows what’s going on, and she knows field hockey inside and out.”

Alongside van Herwijnen in the All-Championship honoraries was Paula Lorenzini. Lorenzini was a nightmare matchup for opposing offenses all season long, and a major reason why UMass was top defense in its conference. Her second quarter goal against Lock Haven in the semifinals gave UMass the lead, which it never relinquished.

“[Lorenzini] has been fantastic,” Jess Beech said. “Her control that she has coming out of the backfield and dictating the game and the play and also dingle-dangling all their strikers is absolutely incredible. She’s been such a rock for us back there. Saving goals left, right and center and really putting in some defensive work.”

Another rookie Mia Smith, underwent a position change this season, going from primarily a midfielder and defender in high school to playing a high center forward in her first official day of practice.

Smith transitioned from a midfielder/defender to a forward with UMass and only became more comfortable in her role as the season went on. Her goal against the Bald Eagles in the semifinals was a crucial momentum-killer for Lock Haven that gave UMass some much-needed breathing room, and the eventual win.

“I’m so excited because [Smith] used to be a little frantic and now she’s so much more confident on the ball,” Gottwals said. “[Smith] knows what she’s doing, and it’s great to see her grow so much.”

Michael Araujo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @araujo_michael_.