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Strong second half pushes UMass field hockey past Saint Francis 3-0

Nicole Miller (33) dribbles the ball in the game against Saint Francis. ( Jessica Picar.

Nicole Miller (33) dribbles the ball in the game against Saint Francis. ( Jessica Picar/Daily Collegian)

AMHERST – The Massachusetts field hockey team picked up their second win in the Atlantic 10 with a 3-0 victory over Saint Francis on Sunday behind a powerful performance from their defense.

The Minutewomen (6-5, 2-0 Atlantic-10) shut the door against SFU (7-5, 1-2 A-10) in the first half, not giving up a single shot. UMass and the Red Flash went into halftime scoreless, but the Minutewomen held a 10-0 advantage in shots.

SFU goalkeeper Elizabeth Dyer’s performance in net was what kept the game scoreless as she made seven of her 15 saves in the first half.

“To feel the pressure and not be able to put one in the first half you could feel more tense, feel more pressure and think ‘it’s not our day’,” UMass head coach Amy Robertson said. “I think we turned that around in the second half. Very happy that we were able to get a few more on the board.”

The Minutewomen finally broke through in the second half, with their first goal coming just over six minutes in. Junior midfielder Sarah Hawkshaw scored her sixth goal of the season on a penalty corner putting UMass up 1-0.

19 minutes later, the Minutewomen struck again beating the Red Flash defense and getting a shot off on Dyer who made the initial save, but could not recover in time as Nicole Miller was able to poke it past Dyer to give UMass a 2-0 lead.

“(Dyer) goes down and takes every first initial shot,” Miller said. “It was important to not get the first shot and I just had my stick ready to tip the ball in.”

Miller’s speed was a big part of the game as she generated multiple scoring opportunities for UMass on Sunday, finishing with one goal and one assist.

“I mean I am a forward, my role is to be in the circle,” Miller said. “I guess I’m just doing my job here.”

The final goal for the Minutewomen to seal the victory came with just four minutes remaining with senior forward Izzie Delario scoring her sixth goal of the season as well off of a pass from Miller.

“In the A-10 every game is huge and every win is important,” Robertson said. “We’ve got a great conference and great team.”On Friday, UMass travels to Virginia to take on the VCU Rams and rival Richmond Spiders.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Miller said with confidence. “Richmond is our obvious rivals since we usually end up in A-10’s with them, we’re just focusing one game at a time and we’ll see what comes out of that. We have to beat VCU before we beat Richmond, but it will be a big game for us.”

Zander Manning can be reached at alexanderman@umass.edu.

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