UNH sets sights on No. 7 UMass
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 01:09
Coming off of a big win this past Saturday against Central Michigan, the UNH field hockey team has their sights set on the No. 7-ranked UMass Amherst.
“You know them well, you respect them … I don’t really think it matters where we’re ranked, and so there’s that mutual respect and excitement to play that game. It’s just a bonus [for us] that they’re ranked where they are,” head coach Robin Balducci said.
The Wildcats defeated the Chippewas 2-1 on Sept. 21 and have won three of their last four games. UMass owns a record of 7-2, with their only losses coming at the hands of No. 1 Connecticut and No. 18 Syracuse.
The Minutmen have defeated No. 6 - ranked Boston College, No. 18 Michigan and No. 26 Main so far this season.
“I think this was a good weekend for us … we controlled the [Central Michigan] game, I felt very confident and comfortable with the game,” Balducci said. “[However] we didn’t bust out a convincing win, we still have that unfinished business.”
The Wildcats average 2.28 points per game, and have allowed just two goals per game in their last six games.
Meg Flatley leads the team with 12 points (5g, 2a), while Hannah Richard and Megan Bozek are tied at second with eight points apiece (4g each). Goaltender Carly Tarbell boasts a save percentage of .683, which puts her ranked No. 55 in the nation.
“Heading into UMass, we know [they] are very good. Solid from top to bottom, very skillful,” Balducci said. “The only ‘good’ thing about playing UMass and the comparison from Central Michigan, is that Central Michigan plays a completely different style. UMass will be more like Northeastern in that the style of play is good. They try to move the ball, they’re disciplined and they put pressure on the ball.”
Balducci said she expected three players to be difference makers in this Friday’s match-up: forward Meg Flatley, midfielder Melissa Woods and backer Chandler Giese.
Flatley scored a goal in each of their first four games, but then went on a two game pointless streak. Woods was a three-year starter prior to last season, and is coming off a season-ending knee injury last year. Giese plays alongside Bozek and has an important role in the team’s breakout passing.
“In an ironic way, it’s an easier game to play,” Balducci said. ”We know what to expect. If we play our game, it will be a quality game. [The players] have got to go hard at UMass, they have to be willing to make mistakes. It’s going to be about how well are we finishing to have a shot at winning the game, and how well are we going to limit their quality shots … then it will be a chess [match].”