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May 5, 2017

UMass field hockey hangs tough, falls to No. 18 Stanford

Chris O'Keefe/Daily Collegian)

Nicole Miller (33) gets ready to attack the ball in the game against Stanford on Friday. (Chris O’Keefe/Daily Collegian)

Wrapping up a four-game home stand, the Massachusetts field hockey team fell 1-0 to No. 18 Stanford on Friday.

In a game where the chances were few and far between, the contest’s lone goal came courtesy of Cardinal (3-4, 0-0 Pac-12) forward Jessica Welch, as the Stanford freshman carried into the circle herself and swept a shot into the upper-left corner with just eight minutes to play.

Both teams had their chances to break the deadlock in the second half, but it was Stanford’s Welch who would find the game-winner, as UMass (4-4, 1-0 A-10) goalkeeper Emily Hazard could only watch as Welch’s shot sailed over her right shoulder and into the back of the net.

The Minutewomen had their share of opportunities, but couldn’t find a way to put one past Cardinal goalkeeper Kelsey Bing on a sunny day at UMass’ Gladchuk Sports Complex.

“I think we showed a great performance,” UMass midfielder Sarah Hawkshaw said. “I think we’re having these great performances but our problem now is putting the games away.”

Despite the loss, the Minutewomen stayed optimistic post-game.

“I thought we played really well,” UMass coach Amy Robertson said. “There were times in the game where I thought we were really controlling the play, and it took a while to get there, but once we got there I felt as though we were really figuring out a way to defend and attack really well, as a team. We were connected, we fought for everything for 70 minutes.”

After a very even first half that lacked in major scoring chances, UMass and Stanford went into the break scoreless. Neither team registered a shot through the first twenty-three minutes, and the only big chances fell to Hawkshaw, who deflected back-to-back short corners just wide of the left post in the closing minutes of the opening period.

“Even in the second half we were putting pressure on them but it just wasn’t going in for us today,” said Hawkshaw.

Despite the tough loss, the Minutewomen understood that there were plenty of positives to take away from matching stride for stride with the 18th ranked team in the country.

“You know, Stanford’s a great team,” Robertson said, “and this was an opportunity and would’ve been a huge boost for us, but I can’t say we’re at all discouraged with the result, I think we can see some good things and we’re going to get the result next time.”

The Minutewomen controlled the midfield for long stretches of the match, but just couldn’t find a breakthrough.

“Unfortunately we didn’t come away with more corners in the second half, didn’t get the shots we need,” Robertson said. “At the end of the day, that was the big problem, not getting one on the board. The midfield play is great, when you can dominate, but you have to finish in the attacking third and that’s what we have to figure out.”

“We played great,” Hazard said, “we only gave up two corners against a top-20 team, for the most part we played really well. We completely dominated this game, and sometimes you dominate games and they just don’t go your way.”

UMass heads to Chestnut Hill next to take on No. 9 Boston College (4-3, 1-1 ACC) on Sunday, Sept. 25th, before traveling to No. 3 UConn (8-0, 2-0 Big East) the following Wednesday in what should be their toughest test of the season.

“We’ve got three more really important games coming up,” says Hawkshaw. “All top-ranked teams. Win one of these, and we’re right back in it.”

Amin Touri can be reached at atouri@umass.edu.

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