Hannah Prince of Gorham, the Miss Maine Field Hockey in 2009, hasn’t missed a start since arriving on the University of Massachusetts campus. The junior defender knows she’ll get start No. 62 today and believes more will follow before this season is over.

Massachusetts (14-8-1) won the Atlantic-10 tournament this past weekend and gained the right to host Northeast Conference champ Rider today at 1 p.m. in an NCAA play-in game.

The winner gets a spot in the 16-team national tournament.

“I’m confident in our ability and I don’t think there’s any team in the country we couldn’t beat if we play our game and play hard,” Prince said prior to Monday’s practice. “It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes and hopefully next weekend.”

UMass is coming off a dominant performance in the A-10 championship, beating Temple, 5-2 and then routing league No. 1 Richmond, 5-0.

Prince picked up her fifth assist of the season against Richmond, to go along with two goals.

Prince said the win against Richmond was an indicator of how her team has improved over the final month of the season. UMass’ one conference loss was a 1-0 setback at Richmond.

“They’ve been one of our rivals for as long as I can remember,” Prince said. “It shows how hard we’ve been working. We’ve always talked about getting to a championship game against Richmond and I don’t think they expected that from us, since we didn’t even score down there. It was a good win to get a shutout and have five goals.”

UMass has won nine straight and outscored its opponents 38-7 since its regular-season loss at Richmond. The streak started with an upset of then No. 1 Syracuse.

“We’ve had our sights set pretty high for awhile. I feel like we’ve been progressing since October,” Prince said.

At Gorham High, Prince starred as a center midfielder, scoring nine goals with seven assists as a senior. But it was her play as a defender on club teams and in the U.S. Field Hockey Futures program (2006-09) that drew the attention of former UMass Coach Justine Sowry.

Prior to Prince’s sophomore year, Carla Tagliente became the head coach. Tagliente said there was little doubt Prince was staying in the starting lineup.

“She eats, drinks, and bleeds hockey and wants to be a better player and wants every one of our players to be a better player,” Tagliente said. “A lot of players care and work hard to get better but this is a different level. Some kids are very passionate about wanting to be great and she wants to be great.”

This year Prince has been all over the back, playing both the right and left side in both three- and four-person alignments and even playing a bit of center defense.

“I’m the type of kid coaches love. I’ll basically do whatever they want,” Prince said.

As the backup “push-out” on offensive corners, she also initiates the penalty corner a couple times a game and that’s led to her five assists this season. She also scored two goals in the opening weekend of the season — both game-winners in overtime when UMass beat nationally-ranked New Hampshire and Ohio State on consecutive days.

Prince is already taking steps to extend her competitive field hockey opportunities after college. Last summer she played in the USA Field Hockey’s High Performance Training program alongside UMass assistant coach and 2012 Olympian Shannon Taylor.

“I never get sick of going to practice. I love working out and (playing beyond college is) definitely something I think about,” Prince said. “The High Performance Program, it’s like the best college athletes. It was an awesome experience. It’s kind of like the college version of Futures.”

Tagliente was asked if Prince has a shot at making the national team.

“You can’t really tell right now and the jump to the international game is very steep but she has the work ethic that other players don’t have,” Tagliente said.

FIELD HOCKEY

Brittany Ross of Scarborough, who was a finalist for the Miss Maine Field Hockey in 2009 with Prince, is a junior forward at Providence College. She scored two goals for the Friars, who ended 9-9 after losing to No. 1 Syracuse (17-1) in last Friday’s Big East conference semifinal. Ross made 21 starts her first two seasons at PC. She came off the bench in 16 games this season.

MEN’S SOCCER

John Murphy of Yarmouth and Bates College recently was named the NESCAC men’s soccer player of the week after scoring five goals and assisting on two in wins over Southern Maine (5-1) and then No. 5 ranked Middlebury (2-0). Murphy finished his career with 22 goals and 14 assists.

 

n Garrett Van Wie of New Gloucester scored two goals in eight games this season for the Amherst College team which is currently 15-0-2 after winning the NESCAC championship with a 2-0 win over Williams on Sunday. Amherst was awarded a first-round NCAA tournament bye and will host a second round game Nov. 11.

n Chris Knaub of Yarmouth found a home in the Bryant College net this fall as the team’s freshman keeper. Knaub, a four-sport varsity letter winner at Yarmouth, started 14 games and posted a 1.56 goals against average with one shutout, a 0-0 overtime tie of Northeast Conference league-leader Fairleigh Dickinson in the Bulldogs’ final home game.

CROSS COUNTRY

Bentley University senior Craig Robinson of Scarborough placed 15th in Sunday’s NCAA Division II East Region Championship at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, N.H., to help secure a trip to the Nov. 17 NCAA Championships in Joplin, Mo., for the Falcons. Bentley, the fourth seed, finished second as a team, putting four runners in the top 15. By finishing in the top 25, Robinson earned All-East status.

n Craig Smith of Sanford recently recorded his first sub-30 minute time over the 8K distance for the Husson University cross country team at the Maine State Championship meet held at USM. Smith finished in 29 minutes, 47 seconds.

CREW

William Smith College junior Katie Paige of Brunswick (North Yarmouth Academy) is a member of the school’s successful varsity eight boat. The unit has been a multi-time winner of the Liberty League Women’s Rowing Boat of the Week award this season.

n Christopher Hoch of Kennebunk, a crew team member, was recently recognized as one of 96 student-athletes at Skidmore College to be inducted into the Thoroughbred Honor Society, which recognizes varsity athletes who achieved a 3.67 or higher GPA the previous semester.

n In mid-October, the Hamilton College men’s open fours earned the bronze medal at the Head of the Genesee Regatta with Dylan Jackson of Yarmouth in the 3-seat.

GOLF

Malcolm Oliver of Damariscotta (Lincoln Academy) was recently named the Northeast-10 Golf Rookie of the Week after tying for second in his second collegiate tournament. Oliver won the Class B state championship last spring.

SWIMMING AND DIVING

This winter’s St. Michael’s College men’s team includes a trio of local athletes: senior Andrew Marshall of Kittery (St. Thomas Aquinas, Dover, N.H.), sophomore Nathan Paluso of Windham and sophomore Matt Pearson of Kennebunk.

n Catherine Tierney of Cape Elizabeth is a first-year on the women’s swimming and diving team at St. Michael’s.

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com