Big Green’s five straight goals propel Dartmouth past UM

By Herb Scribner

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The No. 19 Massachusetts field hockey team failed to knock off Dartmouth last night in its final non-conference game of the year, losing by a final tally of 6-3.

“Today was a dead-rubber for us. We wanted to certainly look at passing the ball around a little bit more [and] to gain confidence playing as a team,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “To give up that many goals is not great, but we gained a lot.”

The Minutewomen (10-8, 1-3 Atlantic 10) started off hot with much offensive pressure towards the Big Green (9-8, 3-2 Ivy League). Defender Makaela Potts scored the first goal of the game, slapping the ball high from the top of the circle.

For UMass, the success was short-lived, as Dartmouth tied the game up with a goal from forward Kelly McHenry, who scored off of a cluttered play near the UMass goal.

Two more goals followed for the Big Green before the end of the half, as midfielder Rebecca Sobel and forward Kelly Hood both netted a pair of scores. Sobel’s goal was scored when Minutewomen goalkeeper Sarah Williams, who started her first game this season, lost track of the ball. Hood’s goal came off of a penalty-corner with just over three minutes left to play in the half.

“We stopped supporting each other off the ball in the first half, which lead to us dribbling a lot more and taking people one on one,” forward Katie Kelly said.

“They certainly wanted the ball more than us,” Sowry said.

Coming out of the locker room, the Minutewomen continued to show a lack of effort, as the Big Green piled three more goals on UMass. Two straight goals from forward Samantha McPherson and a strike from Hood four minutes later gave the Big Green a commanding 6-1 lead.

After a timeout called by Dartmouth, forward Nicole Cordero gave the 181 fans in attendance something to cheer about, as she netted a goal in the 47th minute of play.

The momentum switched after this second goal, as the Minutewomen continued pressuring the ball, looking to make a comeback. Success came once more when midfielder Kim Young tipped the ball in from the corner.

It was a back and forth battle at the end of the game, with both teams continuing to look for a goal. Eventually, time expired, giving the Big Green a mighty and decisive victory.

Following the pounding by Dartmouth, the Minutewomen have two conference match-ups this weekend to close out their season.  These matches are crucial for UMass, as the team will need wins in both games (along with support from other teams around the A-10) to clinch a spot in the championship tournament.  

The first will be on Friday, where UMass will take on La Salle at Garber Field. While the two teams have not battled this season, the Minutewomen defeated the Explorers on Oct. 17 of last year by a final score of 2-0. The victory over the Explorers was part of UMass’ eight-game winning streak to close out the 2008 season.

Following the clash against La Salle, the Minutewomen will face West Chester Sunday for the first time this season. UMass last took on the Golden Rams (8-9, 3-2 A-10) in the 2008 season on Oct. 19, where they walked away with the 4-1 victory.

“We’re going to want to play a more passing game and get some goals on the board,” Sowry said.

The top four teams in the A-10 will make it to the fall championships, where they will play in a semi-final round and then in a final round. As it currently stands, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, the Golden Rams, and Temple are in the tournament.

For the Minutewomen to get a spot, they will need to win their two games, but that could also be their undoing. A victory over West Chester would put both the Golden Rams and UMass at the same position on the A-10 table. Also, two losses by Saint Joseph’s (6-8, 3-1 A-10) would add another tiebreaker situation for the final spots into the playoffs.

If it comes down to a tiebreaker, teams will be selected for the playoffs based on head-to-head competition. Following head-to-head, it will come down to winning percentage versus common conference opponents. After that, percentages and goal differentials make up the rest of the possible solutions to the playoff problem.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]