UMass field hockey wins Atlantic-10 Championship
The Massachusetts field hockey team issued heartbreak Saturday afternoon en route to its 2016 Atlantic 10 Championship.
In the 67th minute of the game against No. 1 seed and 20th ranked Saint Joseph’s, senior midfielder Izzie Delario inserted a penalty corner to junior defender Melanie Kreusch. Hawks’ (15-6, 8-0 A-10) goalie Victoria Kammerinke stopped the initial shot from Kreusch, but senior forward Nicole Miller used her 4’11” frame to her advantage and snuck the ball past Kammerinke to give the Minutewomen (13-7, 6-2 A-10) a 2-1 lead.
“It was on a corner, so I was at the post,” Miller said. “My assistant coach said to get to that post and sit there, it was a bobbled ball and hit the girls shin guard and goalie saved it and I dove in and got it into the back of the net.”
After Miller’s goal gave UMass a lead late, with one second left in regulation, the Hawks were awarded a penalty corner in the Minutewomen’s zone, but the clock continued to run and hit zero before they could get another shot off, clinching UMass’ fourth A-10 championship in the past five years
“It’s an indescribable feeling, I can’t tell you the last time I felt this good,” Minutewomen coach Amy Robertson said. “It’s not just that we won, it’s what we’ve overcome to get this result in the end, we’ve been through so many obstacles to get here.”
UMass broke the scoreless tie in the 29th minute with a goal by Delario – her ninth of the season – on an assist from junior forward Sarah Hawkshaw.
SJU knotted the score at one apiece in the 62nd minute when sophomore forward Anna Willocks scored her 25th goal of the season on a penalty corner.
“It was a little nerve racking,” Miller said. “We had a decent amount of (chances) to score and with 20 minutes to play they scored. Most of the game we were up and it was tough to know it was just a 1-0 lead… But luckily we were able to get it in in the last three minutes.”
However, the goal would not deter the Minutewomen, who held a 21-5 shot advantage.
UMass goalie Emily Hazard finished with two saves, and Kammerinke with nine.
“It was retribution for a very unlucky loss in a tough environment,” Robertson said. “That felt good. At the end of the day, that was when it really mattered. Now we prolong out season and compete for a NCAA championship.”
In the A-10 semi-final matchup Friday, UMass faced rival Richmond hoping to avenge the 4-2 loss back on Oct. 9. The Minutewomen did so with a 3-1 victory as Hawkshaw scored all three goals for UMass.
The Minutewomen got on the board first in the second meeting when Hawkshaw scored her 12th of the season in the 20th minute.
Hawkshaw scored again in the 39th minute and in the 60th minute to give the Ireland native her first career hat trick.
Hawkshaw, Delario and Kreusch have all been named as first team all-conference members, junior midfielder Anne Dijkstra was named to the second team.
The Minutewomen move on to the first round of the NCAA tournament on Sat., Nov. 12.
Zander Manning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed @ZMSportsReport.