Injuries, defensive woes continue
With forward Jill Powers and midfielder Cher King out of the lineup, the No. 19 Massachusetts field hockey team produced too little offense too late against Dartmouth in its 6-3 loss to the Big Green last night.
UMass scored early with a goal by junior Makaela Potts, but could do nothing, while Dartmouth scored six unanswered goals over the next 30 minutes. Offensive opportunities were available for the Minutewomen, but a lack of consistency, execution and key offensive players was a bad formula for UMass coach Justine Sowry’s team.
“It’s definitely a young lineup,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “We have a lot of freshmen on the field, and it’s a work in progress, I guess, for them to have awareness of each other game by game.”
Adding to the injury tally during the game were juniors Potts, who was roughed up during the game in addition to receiving a five-minute yellow card earlier, and Jaime Bourazeris, who left the game after being struck in the head in the second half. Though both are defenders, Potts and Bourazeris are key components on the UMass penalty corner unit. Potts leads the Minutewomen with nine goals on the season, while Bourazeris is fourth with four goals.
While the Minutewomen struggled on the offensive end, the play of Dartmouth goalkeeper Jenna Stearns gave them little chance to bust out of their slump.
Stearns recorded five saves on the night, all coming in key moments, including a stretch of three-straight corners in the first half for the Minutewomen. UMass got off three solid shots in the stretch, all of which were deftly blocked by Stearns.
UMass added two late goals from freshmen Nicole Cordero and Kim Young (her career-first), as the Minutewomen showed some offensive spark in the closing minutes.
“Attacking-wise, I think in the last 24 minutes, we played some really great hockey,” junior forward Katie Kelly said. “We passed the ball more and I think that’s the key to our attack, passing the ball. We’ll get a lot of opportunities in the circle if we do that.”
Williams, defense struggles
With the Minutewomen playing a midweek non-conference game in the midst of a tight race to get a spot in the A-10 tournament, senior goalkeeper Sarah Williams got the start spot in goal Wednesday night.
Williams, who started four games last season and 21 games in her career, had yet to make a start this season until Wednesday night. Her first major playing time of the season, though, did not go well, with the senior surrendering five goals on the night, including three goals in the first half.
According to Sowry, the choice to start Williams wasn’t due to rest for the stretch of three games in five days. Rather, Sowry believed that Williams was not getting the playing time she had deserved.
With 28 minutes and 57 minutes remaining in the second half, sophomore Alesha Widdall replaced Williams in goal. But even Widdall couldn’t stop the bleeding immediately, as the Big Green added their sixth goal of the game with 24:43 left on a penalty corner.
The UMass defense was able to hold off the Dartmouth attack for the remaining minutes, with Widdall recording five saves in that span. However, even with a late comeback bid, the five-goal deficit was too great to overcome.
“We were definitely disconnected,” Sowry said. “We weren’t playing together as a solid defensive unit like we would normally. I think the communication was poor and we, perhaps, let our frustration get to us a little bit.”
Nick O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.