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May 5, 2017

UMass field hockey defeats Lock Haven 3-2 in regular season finale

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(Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

Leading by a goal with one minute remaining after a scoreless second half, the Massachusetts field hockey team was facing the daunting task of a Lock Haven penalty corner. The defense held strong, and cleared the ball before the Bald Eagles could get a shot on goal.

When the clock hit zero the Minutewomen’s place in the Atlantic-10 tournament was solidified with a 3-2 victory over Lock Haven. They will likely face Richmond in the first round next Friday, Nov. 4.

“I’m feeling relieved, because we were put under a lot of pressure,” UMass coach Amy Robertson said. “Lock Haven played phenomenal … It’s a great win, it’s a great way to end our regular season to seal our place and control our destiny.”

UMass (11-7, 6-2  A-10) fell behind early as Lock Haven (9-8, 4-4 A-10) struck first on a goal by senior midfielder Colleen McCabe in the 13th minute off a penalty corner rebound that had bounced off of UMass goaliekeeper Emily Hazard’s pads.

Just over a minute later, UMass junior midfielder Anne Dijkstra knotted the score at one for her third goal of the season after getting a rebound off of the leg of a Lock Haven defender.

In the 23rd minute, Minutewomen senior forward Niki Miller scored her seventh goal of the season from near the left post and into the center of the net to give the Minutewomen a 2-1 lead, sending the Minutewomen fans in presence  into a frenzy.

“I don’t ever really know what happens on my goals, I’m just there and I put them in,” Miller said. “I just saw that she was down so when she’s down mentally you have to lift the ball over the goalie and that’s what I did.”

Just over two minutes later in the 25th minute, the Minutewomen scored again on a goal by junior forward Nicole Kuerzi, her fourth of the season, on a pass from Miller to put them up 3-1.

In the 30th minute, Lock Haven’s senior midfielder Megan Wenrich scored on a pass from McCabe to cut the lead to 3-2. Wenrich’s goal was the last one of the game.

In the second half, both Hazard and Bald Eagle goalie Paige Stuppy played excellent in net. Hazard finished the game with six saves, while Stuppy finished with 11.

“(The defense) was great,” Hazard said. “Mel (Kreusch) had some great runs that really shut them down on the offensive side.”

The Minutewomen attack increased in the second half and had 10 shots in the second half after having eight in the first half. Despite both team’s getting numerous chances, neither could put the ball in the net.

“That’s really frustrating actually,” Miller said. “I don’t think it’s going to be good for us to go into the A-10 tournament in both the first and second half. I think though the second half we did play better, we just weren’t getting the results we needed.”

After playing in Pennsylvania the weekend before in warmer weather, the Minutewomen were forced to wait a day to get back on the field after Amherst saw its first snow Thursday. The temperature was a brisk 40 degrees at game time when UMass took the field.

According to Miller and Hazard, it’s strange switching from warmer to colder temperatures, but nothing its they worry about. Robertson, perhaps, put it perfectly:

“We’re field hockey players, we don’t think about that,” Robertson said. “It can be 80 one day and 20 the next and that’s at the core of every hockey player, the weather will never matter.”

Up next, the Minutewomen look ahead to the A-10 tournament. They are looking to play better against the Spiders, after falling in their first meeting 4-2 on Oct. 9.

“We’re looking to play better in that game and come out and have the best team performance we can have,” Robertson said.

Zander Manning can be reached at alexanderman@umass.edu and followed @ ZMSportsReport.

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