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UMass field hockey falls to No. 2 Maryland in first round of NCAA tournament

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(Jong Man Kim/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team gave No. 2 nationally-ranked Maryland all it could handle as the Minutewomen fell 2-1 in penalty shots in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.

The Terrapins (18-4, 7-1 Big-Ten) won the penalty shootout 3-0 on their first three attempts. Maryland now moves on to play No. 4 North Carolina.

“I’m recovering,” UMass coach Amy Robertson said. “Slowly, but surely. It’s bittersweet. I’m so proud of the performance our team put out there. The fight, our leadership, it was amazing. To not get the result is heartbreaking. Being that close was heartbreaking.”

With the Minutemen (14-8, 6-2 Atlantic-10) leading 1-0 in the 69th minute, Maryland dribbled down the field and drew a penalty corner scored by graduate defender Grace Baldson, knotting the score at one apiece.

After Baldson scored, the Terrapins pulled junior goalkeeper Sarah Bates to get extra attacker Brook Adler onto the field – giving them eight players on the field.

“It’s really hard, you feel like you got socked in the gut,” Robertson said. “You just have to keep playing and you don’t want to give up after all you’ve done … You just have to pick yourself up and get that next one.”

Despite numerous chances for both teams, both the Minutewomen and Terrapin defenses held strong and at the end of both overtime periods the score remained 1-1..

Robertson attributed most of the success in the two overtime periods to the play of junior goalie Emily Hazard, who kept the Minutewomen in the game with seven saves in the game.

“It was amazing,” Robertson said. “Emily hazard really held the line in goal and along with her was the whole team determined to not let up a goal. It’s so easy to let up in that situation.”

UMass was the first on the scoreboard when junior forward Sarah Hawkshaw scored on a reverse shot in the ninth minute – her first goal of the tournament and team-high 16th of the season. The 16th goal was also seven more than her previous best nine.

When Hawkshaw scored, it did not surprise Robertson at all – in fact she expected it given how the team has been playing as of late.

“It wasn’t surprising at all,” Robertson said. “You can tell a lot about the mentality of a team by a team’s pass-back. We came out to win, have to keep working to get another one on the board.”

Just before the end of the second overtime, Hawkshaw was issued a yellow card, but the Minutewomen held their own and didn’t allow a goal despite playing with six players to the Terrapins’ seven.

Robertson wasted no time praising how proud of this team she was, despite falling short of their overall goal – to make it to the Final Four.

“This is the toughest group of women I have ever coached,” Robertson said. “This result is going to hurt for a long time, but the knowledge and insight of the people they are is something they can take to different situations in life.

“I don’t know if I’ve processed that much yet. I’m sad, but I’m proud of what we’ve done this year, all of us will be connected because of this. This is a special year with a very special group.”

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

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