Minutewomen split home series

By Michael Wood

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Massachusetts field hockey team returned home after back-to-back losses on the road and began a four-game home stand with a 2-0 victory over Vermont on Friday night and a 1-0 loss to Albany Sunday.

The Minutewomen did some things well in both games and could transfer what they worked on in practice into a game setting, something their coach expected to see

“It was actually a very good weekend for us working the ball down the field,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “With our attacking opportunities there were definitely a lot of opportunities and a lot of positives.”

 The weekend began with a visit from the Catamounts, who had won three of their last four games, and UMass did everything it wanted to do in the contest.

Seniors Katie Kelly and Makaela Potts each scored goals, as the Minutewomen outshot UVM, 29-4. Kelly’s goal came from the top of the scoring circle with two minutes, 50 secounds left in the half, and Potts added her first of the year in the 47th minute of play.

Sowry said that winning corners and getting high-percentage shots was a priority in practice throughout last week, and her team achieved that goal by winning 13 penalty corners

 “Overall I was really pleased,” Sowry said. “We generated a lot on attack and we haven’t done that in a number of weeks, so it was very pleasing to see. Our focus was the first five minutes and to win a couple of corners and execute it. We definitely earned the corners and we put [Vermont] under an enormous amount of pressure.”

 Vermont goalkeeper Brooke Crane came up with 12 saves, many of which were in acrobatic fashion, diving or sliding to prevent a score.

On Sunday, the Minutewomen were not so fortunate, losing out to a physically superior Great Danes squad.

In a game that featured six cards given out and 11 penalty corners, the story was all about the physicality and hard-fought nature of the game. Albany lost two players in the final six minutes of play, but held off charges from the Minutewomen and hung on for the win.

“It was pretty physical,” Kelly said. “They were relentless. I don’t know if the physicality that we played to was our best.”

Christina Patrick scored the only goal of the contest midway through the second half on a tipped ball from teammate Nina Walters, and the No. 18 Great Danes escaped with a 1-0 victory.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Sowry said. “We played some really good hockey; and some of the goals that we set out in the beginning of the game, we executed very nicely, but our scoring woes continued. I think the key critical factor was that we played with two people up, and at the end of the day you’ve got to put more [pressure] on the cage.”

Similar to Friday’s game against Vermont, UMass controlled the play for much of the first half and the start of the second half, before succumbing to the Great Danes’ pressure.

The Minutewomen were not without chances however, outshooting Albany, 13-10, and playing with a two-man advantage for about three minutes at the end of play.

With about 28 minutes left, Kelly stole the ball in Albany’s circle and beat Great Dane goalkeeper Kristi Troch, but her shot was deflected on a sliding stop by defender Taylor Luke, who had vacated her position to help when Kelly got behind Troch.

“Our coach called timeout and praised her for her diving save,” Kelly said. “She told us that was how we needed to play if we wanted to win the game. Basically Albany just outworked us today.”

Alesha Widdall made four saves for UMass, and Kelly led the team in shots with four.

The Minutewomen play again on Oct. 9 at 2:00 p.m. against Syracuse for the third game of their four-game homestand.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]