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Field Hockey Maintains Strong Start With Victory Over UMass

By Travis Johnson

The MIT Women’s Field Hockey team continued their best start since 1995 when they defeated the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth 4-2 on Thursday. MIT’s dominating ball control has improved their record to 7-1 on the season.

The first half was frustrating for MIT as they got off shot after shot but Dartmouth’s goalie and defense left them largely empty handed. The Engineers got off 22 shots but only one goal in the thirty-five minute first half. Coach Cheryl Silva attributed their stuggles to having to adapt to UMass’ style of play, which she described as “take away the center of the field, 3-3-3” defense.

The other side of the field, though rarely visited because of MIT’s ball control, was equally frustrating. The Corsairs of UMass scored on their first penalty corner even as MIT faltered on their first three. Also, Engineer goalie Alexa C. Herman ’08 guessed wrong on a breakaway, going for the ball carrier just as the ball was passed to a wide open teammate.

Starting the second half behind 2-1, MIT made a half-time adjustment to UMass’s style. “I think they they were able to set up their passes a little bit better … we really, really needed to go to a one-touch redirect passing game, and that’s one of our strengths,” said Silva.

The results were immediate. MIT quickly converted two of their many shots to goals, both tallied by Captain Deanna M. Lentz ’05. The first came on a pass from Anna E. Ayuso ’06 and the second when a deflection lifted the ball above the unsuspecting Corsair goalie.

MIT controlled play throughout, even in the first half when their shots weren’t going in and their passing wasn’t as crisp. Some telling statistics are MIT’s 47-8 advantage in shots, and that Herman only needed to make one save the entire game.

Two days later MIT faced conference opponent Babson, who had a similar non-conference record coming into the game. MIT lost 3-1 and fell to 7-2 overall, 0-1 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.

With a good start to the season and a favorable schedule full of home matches against top competitors, MIT has a chance of winning the NEWMAC, particularly if they are able to improve their defense and passing.