Minutewomen stay undefeated in conference with weekend wins

By Michael Wood

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Senior Katie Kelly scored two goals in the last two regular season home games of her career and received helped from a flurry of offense as the Massachusetts field hockey team closed out its home schedule with back-to-back wins.

Oct. 24 was senior day at Garber Field, and the Minutewomen made sure to send their seniors off in style, defeating Saint Joseph’s, 4-1.

Thando Zono scored two quick goals, Kelly converted on a penalty shot and Mika Black scored the first goal of her UMass career as the Minutewomen clinched a berth in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

The Maroon and White (11-6, 5-0 A-10) have won seven consecutive games, and remain atop the standings with an undefeated record in conference play.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Kelly said. “It’s exactly where we want to be. We just need to continue focusing, taking one game at a time. Next weekend we still have to get the job done.”

Kelly’s penalty shot was the first of her career, and her team-leading tenth goal of the season. She now has double-digits in scoring for three straight seasons.

“It was good. I had never [taken] a stroke in a game before so I was really nervous, but it felt pretty good to be able to score,” Kelly said. “I pretty much do the same stroke every time, so I basically was just thinking if I miss it, people were going to have a lot of comments to say to me, so I better score this.”

Zono scored the first two goals of the game midway through the first half. Both goals came off successful penalty corners, something the Minutewomen have been working on all season long.

“We had enough of them that you want to keep mixing it up,” UMass coach Justine Sowry said. “Overall, I wasn’t that pleased with our penalty corner execution. Scoring a couple is good, but I’ll give great credit to the Saint Joseph’s defense, and I thought their goalkeeper played really well today.”

Black tallied her first goal off a cross from Nicole Cordero inside the scoring circle with 10 minutes left in play.

On Friday afternoon, UMass capitalized on its consistent pressure, effective passing attack, and offensive shots and beat Temple, 1-0.

“We had some great passing combinations in this game,” Sowry said. “It’s been our focus and we’ve tried to even up our attack a little. We got into the circle a decent amount, and from here we just have to stay consistent and hopefully get a little more attack in the circle.”

Kelly scored the lone goal in the game with five minutes left in the first half. She took a cross from Nikki Panciocco in front of the net and put a shot past Owl goalkeeper Sarah Dalrymple for her ninth goal of the season.

 The Minutewomen defense shined as the most effective aspect of the game plan, holding Temple to just one shot on goal. The remainder of the game was dominated by the Maroon and White in unquantifiable categories. Everything the team did seemed to work, and while Sowry was pleased with the outcome, she stressed that her coaching staff still expects perfection out of their athletes.

“We’re still very hard on [the players] right now,” Sowry said. “A 7-0 run, 5-0 in the A-10 is great, but that’s not why we’re here. It’s to get back into the tournament and get into the final and move on from there. We have to work hard at practice on our set pieces, continue to pass the ball and have good field awareness.”

 The Minutewomen finish their regular season on the road as they head to Westchester on Friday and La Salle on Sunday for the last game before the start of the A-10 tournament.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]