Four road games, five-straight losses. That’s what the Massachusetts field hockey team has been up to lately.
The Minutewomen fell, 2-0, to Orange despite hard-fought play in inclement weather at J.S. Coyne Stadium.
UMass struggled from the start as Syracuse unleashed a high-powered attack, bombarding the net throughout the match.
The Orange registered 15 shots on net in the first half alone, while the Minutewomen were unable to find the goal at all.
Two-time All-American senior goalkeeper Alesha Widdall kept UMass in the game making eight saves on the day while withstanding a 23-2 shot advantage by Syracuse. The Orange defense curbed UMass’ chances in the circle by pushing up and dominating the possession game with their attack.
Senior forward Heather Susek notched the first goal for the Orange at the nine-minute mark, allowing Syracuse to jump out to an early 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
Susek scored easily by firing a low shot from just inside the circle on an assist from junior Kelsey Millman.
In the 56th minute, junior back Amy Kee added a goal to pad the lead for the Orange. Set up off the corner, Liz McInerney fed a pass right into Kee who ripped the shot into the back of the goal to give Syracuse a 2-0 lead. Kee recorded eight shots and three on goal in the contest.
Junior forward Kim Young was responsible for the Minutewomen’s two shots in the match, with one being on a shot on goal. Despite mustering a pair of shots, both of Young’s attempts came within inches of the net – her first shot just missing the net, and her second stopped by Syracuse goalkeeper Leann Stiver. Stiver practically had the day off in net recording one save in 70 minutes for the Orange.
The Orange statistically dominated UMass in almost every category. Besides outshooting the Minutewomen, Syracuse held a 14-2 advantage in penalty corners, with a 9-0 advantage in the first half.
The loss marks the fourth-straight for UMass as it drops to 2-8 on the season while the Orange improve to 9-2 with their sixth-straight win and 22nd-straight win at home.
UMass has and will continue to face a tough schedule in 2011, including bouts against three of the top five teams in the preseason polls. The Minutewomen will face six teams ranked in the top 20 of the same preseason poll throughout the season.
Additionally, UMass will face seven teams who received votes or consideration for the poll as well. Despite the slow start, UMass coach Carla Tagliente has faith in her squad to live up to the preseason poll that predicted the team would capture the 2011 Atlantic 10 Championship, which would be the Minutewomen’s fourth title in the last five years.
UMass will open up A-10 play this weekend as it continues its road trip and take on Lock Haven Saturday at 12 p.m. The field hockey team will return home on Oct, 14 at 3 p.m. when it faces off against St. Joseph’s.
Matt Strong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org