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May 4, 2017

Minutewomen split weekend series in Boston

The Massachusetts field hockey team completed its trip to Boston, Mass., by taking a game against Northeastern on Friday before falling to Boston University on Sunday.

The Minutewomen (1-3) fell behind, 1-0, to the Terriers (4-0) just 50 seconds into the game, and had to overcome a 2-0 deficit within the first 15 minutes.

“It’s really tough,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “One of our goals was to come out strong and control the tempo and that completely backfired. In the last couple of games, our opponents have scored first and scored pretty early so it definitely doesn’t help our cause.”

UMass controlled the second half, scoring once on Katie Kelly’s redirect in the 42nd minute. UMass outshot BU, 6-4, in the second half while drawing six penalty corners and holding to the Terriers to none.

“They’re competitors, they don’t like to lose and they work really hard,” Sowry said of her players. “Unfortunately we would rather do that on the front end and put the pressure on our opponents rather than the other way around.”

The Minutewomen also went behind, 1-0, in the first half of their game against Northeastern before Kelly tied the score five minutes later. Jaime Bourazeris put UMass ahead with 15 minutes left, scoring off of a penalty corner.

The Minutewomen’s 2-1 win over Northeastern, coupled with their 2-1 loss to BU resulted in the type of tight games UMass has grown accustomed to seeing early on this season. Each of its first four games has been decided by one goal, something that Sowry sees as a reoccurring theme.

“It’s not going to get any easier by any means,” Sowry said. “Our next opponent is [Connecticut] and they’re probably in the top five in the country right now. They’re tough opponents, they don’t give you much room to work in and you have to build upon a really, really solid defense and take the opportunities when you get them. It’s not easy, but we’re still trying to remain focused with the A-10s in sight, and just keep improving and learn from the games that we’ve played.”

A bright spot of the young season has been the play of Kelly, a senior captain of the Minutewomen. Her goal against the Terriers was her third goal in four games.

“[Kelly] has been a fantastic leader and she’s one of the most competitive, hard-working individuals that I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Sowry said. “She’s leading by example and she gives 100 percent every minute that she’s on the field. Certainly when she’s on the field that’s when we get our most attacking opportunities, we look very dangerous and threatening.”

UMass has scored four times in its last four games, three of those courtesy of Kelly. Sowry attributes the inconsistent play of the forward and midfield lines to the youth at those positions.

“We’re definitely getting opportunities,” Sowry said. “Between our forward line and midfield line, there’s a lack of connection so we want to get more of our attackers involved in the play so it’s not individual. We have five or six freshmen on our midfield and forward lines so it’s young and it’s going to take some time to connect better.”

With such improvements, UMass can take their spurts of strong play and better stretch them over a full 70-minute game.

“It’s every individual taking responsibility for their own performance and matchup with their direct opponent and staying focused and defending as an entire team,” Sowry said. “If you go solo, a lot of gaps can open up and that’s what happened today. BU controlled the tempo and we weren’t stepping up defensively as an entire unit.”

Pete Vasquez can be reached at pvasquez@student.umass.edu.

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