Under the lights, with a big crowd on hand, the Minutewomen (6-6, 1-0 Atlantic 10) faced their first A-10 opponent of the season and controlled play from the opening whistle.
For the first time in more than a decade, UMass held an opponent without a shot attempt on goal, 28-0. Most of the action occurred on the Billikens’ (0-14, 0-1 A-10) half of the field.
“I’m very pleased,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “It’s good to get a win under the belt; it’s our first Atlantic 10 [win]. The buildup, we were actually really excited for the start of the Atlantic 10. To get a win was our goal. It’s literally one step at a time so now we can move on. The nerves, hopefully we can get rid of them and start playing some free flowing hockey.”
Just a minute and 32 seconds into the game, freshman Alexa Sikalis took a shot off a rebound from net to give UMass an early 1-0 lead. It was Sikalis’s first career goal with Kelly earning the assist.
“It was our first round of the A-10s and we came out pretty strong,” senior captain Katie Kelly said. “It’s nice to go into the A-10s with a little bit of confidence. We just need to make sure we bring it every day from here on out because the games are only going to get harder.”
Senior Makaela Potts scored twice, after coming into Saturday with just one goal on the season. Both goals were well-struck grounders set-up by penalty corners. Senior Jamie Bourazeris assisted on both Potts goals.
“I’ve only scored one goal before this so it’s good to get some goals in there,” Potts said. “But it’s not all for me, I think it was just a team effort and I just got lucky to get them in the goal.”
Potts almost collected her third tally of the game, but had her shot waved off for being too high. Potts received a yellow card for disagreeing with the call.
“She had a call, which she didn’t really appreciate, and it knocked her off her game a little bit but I’m pleased with how she came back on the field,” Sowry said. “With the youth that was around her, she was actually a great leader and was able to generate some good attacking play for us.”
Kelly scored the other UMass goal in the 13th minute. It was her team-leading seventh goal of the year. Potts and Kelly combined for 17 of the team’s 28 shots.
The Minutewomen will finish non-conference play on Tuesday afternoon at Dartmouth. The Big Green (8-3, 2-1 Ivy League) began the season with a 7-1 record, however have recently lost two games out of three. Their latest game was a 4-1 loss at Boston University on Sunday.
Last season, UMass hosted Dartmouth on Oct. 28 and fell 6-3. Potts and sophomore Nicole Cordero each had goals for the Minutewomen while midfielder Kelly Hood had two goals in that game for the Big Green.
“They’re playing good hockey,” Sowry said. “They have a couple of very key figures on the field in Kelly Hood and [senior midfielder] Virginia Peisch and they’ve got a very solid goalkeeper as well. They can definitely throw a lot of overheads and then run off with your mistakes. But they also have some great attacking plays as well.”
Hood has a team-leading 16 goals for Dartmouth, having taken 31 percent of the Big Green’s shots. The next closest goal scorer on Dartmouth has five.
“Kelly Hood would be someone we really have to deny the ball,” Sowry said. “She seems to be generating probably half of their opportunities and half of their goals. We really need to take care of business and deny her as much as possible.”
For the Minutewomen, this game is a chance to fine-tune certain aspects of their game that still need improvements.
“We’ll definitely use that game to work on some of the things that we’re going to need to execute in the A-10s,” Kelly said, “working the ball around the back and just different things like that that we maybe haven’t been doing or we need to continue doing.”
Pete Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.