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UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Goalkeeper Alesha Widdall plays large role in victory

Massachusetts goalkeeper Alesha Widdall stood in net Sunday, facing Syracuse midfielder Martina Loncarica.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead with just two minutes, 11 seconds left in the game, the Minutewomen had dominated the Orange on offense all day. Regardless, all their hard work could have been erased with one penalty shot, and if the Orange get any momentum, its offense is difficult to stop.

Loncarica bounced up and down a few times to distract the goalkeeper then skipped a shot to the left side of the goal. Widdall dove to her right a split second later and the ball deflected off her blocker pad. Still 1-0.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Widdall said. “I tried to stay composed as much as possible. At this level it’s really hard and you basically have to just pick a side and dive. Luckily it was a little off base and I could get to it.”

Under enormous pressure from a potent Syracuse offense, Widdall finished with 11 saves, an anomaly in field hockey. Most came on diving or sliding stops, as she earned her 16th shutout of her career.

 “Alesha was huge,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “Alesha, along with the rest of the defenders, showed incredible composure and she specifically was undeniable. She really wanted to keep the ball out of the back of the net. It was a fabulous effort.”

Widdall has been the most consistent player on the squad all season long. Eleven games into her junior year, she is already on pace to record personal records in saves, shutouts and save percentage. Her coach believes she plays and leads like a true senior veteran.

“[Alesha] is always outstanding,” Sowry said. “With a quality goalkeeper back there, we can play more aggressive, and having her back there really gives the team great confidence.”

Widdall has a laundry list of accomplishments and it is difficult to argue with the numbers she has put up during her third year in goal.

She is currently 10th in the nation in season save percentage (.785), and fourth among active goalkeepers with a career save percentage of .779. She is 18th in goals-against average (1.38), and also ranks seventh in minutes played, the only non-senior player on that list.

Against the juggernaut that is Syracuse’s offense, Widdall knew it would take all of her efforts to keep her team in the game.

 “I try to keep my feet under me as much as possible,” Widdall said. “In past years they’ve scored early on, so I tried to stop them early. I gave everything, everything, everything I had to stop the ball today.”

It’s not easy being the anchor of a defensive scheme, but Widdall takes it all in stride. She prepares for every game the same way, and doesn’t let herself get too ahead in her pregame thoughts.

“At first it’s a weird process,” Widdall said. “I try to get really pumped up for the game and psyched, but I also try to stay very composed because if I get too psyched up, I let in dumb goals.”

Michael Wood can be reached at mcwood@student.umass.edu.

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