The importance of UMass’ home field advantage in A-10 championship on Saturday

‘Our team is the most comfortable at home’

Dylan+Nguyen+%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen / Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts field hockey team is the host of the Atlantic 10 tournament and with that comes great importance.

Every year an A-10 team gets a shot at hosting the tournament and  this year the Minutewomen (14-5, 6-1 A-10) were the ones to be chosen for the honor. On Thursday, UMass started off the two-day tournament with a win over Lock Haven.

Hosting the tournament is especially important for UMass’ six seniors. For some, it’s their last chance at winning the tournament which makes its extra special.

“You never realize how important to be on your own field and have your own fans is until you actually have it,” Steph Gottwals said.

With games being at Gladchuk Field Hockey Complex, many family members came out to support. The stands were full of friends and family cheering loudly for the Minutewomen on Thursday afternoon. After the first goal was scored by Jess Beech, all anyone could hear was cheers. People yelling loudly, getting up to show their support.

The goal was extra special for Beech as her family is not from the United States. The seniors’ parents traveled from England to watch Beech battle for her last chance in the tournament.

“It helps even more,” Beech said about her family being in the stands. “The home crowd is always a good crowd.”

UMass players are especially biased when it comes to its field. With players being so comfortable at Gladchuk field, the Minutewomen consider their field the best in the A-10. On Thursday, the mixture of the field and 67-degree weather helped the Minutewomen to victory.

“One thing about everybody’s surfaces that are in the top four, ours is by far the best,” Gottwals said. “It’s so different playing on this field than anywhere else.”

With the matchup of Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, UMass will be facing a larger challenge.  With the Hawks ranked No.1, the Minutewomen will need the fans on their side. In their last matchup the Hawks dominated, putting up three goals, while the Minutewomen could not put up one.

The last time UMass hosted the A-10 tournament was in 2017 when the Minutewomen fell to the Hawks in double overtime in the championship game.

“We want to play our game,” Beech said. “It’s a huge rivalry between us and Saint Joesph’s but I think what we have this year in our poise and confidence in our team and our core going forward, I think we’re just going to play our game.”

Again, with the fans on UMass’ side, this will be a different game for it. On Oct. 7, the game was played at Saint Joseph’s, and this time around the Minutewomen will be on their home field. They also will be playing with more confidence after coming off a big win on Thursday.

“Our team is the most comfortable at home,” head coach Barb Weinberg said. “It’s huge for us to be home.”

UMass will return to its home field on Saturday, Nov.5 at 12 p.m. to take on Saint Joseph’s (14-4, 7-0 A-10) in the A-10 Championship. Game time is set for 12 p.m.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire.