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UMass field hockey loses weekend set

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey teamThe Massachusetts field hockey team lost two games over the weekend, falling 1-0 against Yale on Sunday after a 5-2 loss to Saint Joseph’s on Friday. Despite the losses, UMass clinched entry into the Atlantic 10 conference tournament with Saint Francis’ loss on Sunday.

UMass (11-7, 5-2 Atlantic-10) looked sluggish in Sunday’s loss, showing what UMass coach Barb Weinberg called “carelessness with our skill execution.”

“It wasn’t good enough in the first half,” senior forward Nicole Kuerzi said. “I don’t know why our energy was lacking, but it was, and we had to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

The team generated seven penalty corners, six in the second half, and finished with nine shots on goal.

“Definitely a reflection of a good defense,” coach Barb Weinberg said. “Yale’s circle defense was incredible today. It was a little bit of a result of our shape around the goal cage, but also just our grit to want to finish.”

Yale’s lone goal came in the 14th minute on a shot from freshman Olivia Levieux that trickled past goalkeeper Emily Hazard. Hazard shut out the Bulldogs the rest of the way.

“I thought our defense was good,” Weinberg said. “The one opportunity they had came off a turnover from the backfield. It’s unfortunate. I think that’s a tough thing to handle as a goalkeeper, you have one shot, one goal, and then you have to mentally get yourself back into the game.”

The loss came after the Minutewomen gave up five unanswered goals on Friday en route to a 5-2 loss against No. 19 Saint Joseph’s.

“We knew that St. Joe’s was a really good side, and one of our aims was just to move the ball,” Weinberg said. “We passed the ball simply in the first half; we were able to build it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the same in the second half, and that’s where the game got away from us.”

UMass scored two goals in the first half, but the momentum swung at halftime. The Hawks stormed back with five goals in the second half, including three in a 10-minute span to take the lead. Senior defender Melanie Kreusch attributed the second half struggles to adjustments by Saint Joseph’s.

“We kind of took a step back and they took a step forward,” Kreusch said. “They changed their press and we didn’t change our outlet, which made a huge difference in the second half.”

After Sunday’s game, UMass has lost three straight for the first time this season.

“We definitely wanted a quick turnaround from Friday to Sunday, so this hurts,” Kuerzi said. “But we have a bigger goal on Friday anyway and bigger goal in the tournament. Like it or not, we win or lose as a team. We’re just focusing on A-10s.”

The loss to Saint Joseph’s ended the Minutewomen’s hopes of getting the top seed for the A-10 tournament, but they clinched a place two days later with Saint Francis’ loss to Richmond. UMass has one game remaining before the tournament.

“It’s going to be one day at a time from now until our first A-10 game,” Weinberg said. “There are some things that we need to improve on, no doubt, things that have probably been happening all season, and we’ve been coming up with some wins when we’ve just been getting lucky. So, we really need to improve over the next two weeks.”

“It’s a process,” Kreusch said. “From the first game until now, the whole team has improved. Every single player has improved individually, and I think here we’re still focusing on the skills.”

The Minutewomen close out the regular season on Friday at home against Richmond.

 

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

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