October 8, 2013

COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: UMF field hockey deals with odd schedule

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The University of Maine at Farmington field hockey team has a strange schedule. In a period of a few weeks, the Beavers have six days off, then back-to-back games, then a stretch of two games in 11 days.

The Beavers are currently enjoying -- if that's the right word -- a stretch of five days off between games. They defeated North Atlantic Conference rival Simmons 6-1 on Sunday, and don't play again until Saturday, when they're at New England College.

"We had a day off (Monday), so then we'll just do four days of practice," UMF coach Cyndi Pratt said. "We've kind of gotten into a pretty good routine, which certainly isn't ideal, but we make it happen."

UMF is 4-4-0 overall and 3-1-0 in conference play. The one loss in the conference was by a 2-0 score to defending conference champion Castleton. Pratt said during a week like this, she tried to make practices both fun and productive.

"The one thing I try to avoid is to make it too much of a monotony in practice, to where they're getting bored (about) improving things," Pratt said. "We've got a ton of things we can improve on. They're competitive people -- that's why they're playing college sports."

UMF has been especially strong on defense, led by sweeper Kate Storey and center back Renée DesPres of Skowhegan. On offense, the six goals Sunday against Simmons were a season high.

"I was encouraged this weekend," Pratt said. "We scored six goals in a game, and all of them were by a different person. There's a lot of conference games left, but I'm happy with where we are at this point."

* * *

Thomas men's soccer is 5-5-1 overall and 2-2-0 in the NAC, after finishing 15-3-2 overall last fall. Coach Chris Parsons, however, said it's far from a case of the Terriers being a weaker team.

"Our team, I feel like, is a very talented team -- more talented than last year, probably," Parsons said. "I feel like we're playing really well. We're just not getting the results that we want."

There are a number of mitigating factors for the Terriers' record this season. Key scorers Dakota Duplissie (Maranacook) and Michael Hand and defender Kyle Rabe (Lawrence) have all been injured. Parsons said the Terriers are hoping to have Hand and Rabe back for their Oct. 19 game against Husson, and they'll learn more this week about Duplissie's future availability.

Thomas has also had a tougher schedule this year, with opponents like William Paterson (a 3-2 loss in overtime) and Bowdoin (a 0-0 tie). Change those into two wins against weaker opposition, and the Terriers are 7-4-0, but not necessarily in better shape.

Along with a tougher schedule and a depleted roster, Thomas has also had only one home game, plus a game in Waterville at Colby.

"The travel's really taking its toll," Parsons said. "We have five conference games to end our schedule, and four of them are home games."

Thomas' next game is of course, on the road, at 8 tonight against Bates. Parsons and Bates coach Stewart Flaherty coach the Portland Phoenix U-17 team together. The Bobcats edged Thomas 1-0 last fall.

"It's going to be a good matchup," Parsons said. "I think Bates is a better team than they were last year. If we get a win, we're 1-1-1 against NESCAC teams in Maine. We know we're going to be able to compete. We just hope we get the result."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243


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