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Minutewomen split Pennsylvania trip

(Tori Green / Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team split two Atlantic 10 games over the weekend, winning 2-1 over Lock Haven on Sunday after a 1-0 loss against Saint Francis on Friday. The win on Sunday moved them to 7-3 on the year, and 2-1 in the A-10.

Sarah Hawkshaw scored the eventual winner on Sunday, deflecting a blocked shot off a penalty corner in the 53rd minute to give UMass its first lead of the day. The Minutewomen controlled the ball for the final 20 minutes and kept Lock Haven from responding to come away with the win.

For the second straight game, UMass fell behind early. Lock Haven (6-4, 1-3 A-10) scored three minutes in on a long drive by midfielder Alyscia Smith to put the Minutewomen in a 1-0 hole early.

“They were playing with really good energy, even after the goal was scored,” UMass coach Barb Weinberg said of her team. “It was early in the game so we knew we’d have time to respond.”

UMass responded with an offensive outburst around the 20th minute that saw 11 shots in an eight-minute span, including a penalty-stroke goal from Melanie Kreusch that tied the score.

“The ball hit a Lock Haven player’s foot on the line, and Melanie Kreusch managed to put it in for us,” Coach Weinberg said of the first goal. “The second came on an attack penalty corner, Anne Dijkstra to Sarah Hawkshaw. Our attack penalty corner unit did a really good job today.”

The Bald Eagles failed to score afterward, taking only two shots on goal the whole game. The Minutewomen held the opposition below two goals for the sixth straight game, winning five games in the stretch.

Sunday’s win followed a 1-0 loss against Saint Francis (5-4, 1-0 A-10) on the road Friday. The game’s only goal came on a rebound off a corner kick for Saint Francis in the third minute of the game, leaving UMass down early. Goalkeeper Emily Hazard shut out the Red Flash the rest of the way, but the Minutewomen were unable to come away with a goal despite a late push. Their final hope was extinguished when two shots by Sarah Hawkshaw came up short in the final minute.

The team’s struggles one Friday were exacerbated by playing on unfamiliar turf. The team spent the week before preparing on the football field at McGuirk Stadium to adjust to playing on field turf, trying to fix issues after another 1-0 loss two years ago at Saint Francis.

“Friday’s a different story, the surface was really challenging,” Weinberg said. “It’s tougher to score goals on that surface, especially when we don’t play on that surface every day.”

In Sunday’s game, the offense was on more familiar turf and much improved.

“We were just able to work the ball out of our backfield much better,” Weinberg said. “Long shots out of the backfield, getting the ball up to our strike line. Lot of really great opportunities through the midfield up the right-hand side.”

Both games in Pennsylvania were marked by high temperatures and humidity. Coach Weinberg said that the heat affected the team’s strategy for substitutions.

“We managed subs consciously today,” Weinberg said. “We have a lot of players who almost never come out, and we had to give some of those key players a rest today to deal with the heat and humidity.”

The two A-10 games put UMass’ conference record at 2-1 on the season following a win against Davidson the previous Friday. The Minutewomen have five more conference games remaining in the season, including four at home.

UMass will return to action Friday at home against La Salle, another conference opponent, before going on the road to face top-ranked Connecticut next Sunday.

Thomas Haines can be reached at thaines@umass.edu.

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