UMass field hockey falls to Duke in second round of tournament

By Jesse Mayfield Sheehan

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It was fun while it lasted, but the ride is over for the Massachusetts field hockey team.

Cade Belisle/ Collegian

The 10th-ranked Minutewomen fell to No. 5 Duke by a score of 4-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, eliminating them from the tournament and ending their 2013 season.

But despite the tough loss, the team can look back on a very successful season that involved winning its second straight Atlantic 10 Championship and advancing farther into the playoffs than it has since the 2000 season.

“Of course I’m disappointed with the outcome today, but I’d be disappointed with the outcome next weekend if we lost in the national championship game,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “But I do think that this team did a tremendous job and it’s the best team that I’ve ever been a part of and ever coached.”

The Blue Devils got out to an early lead in the game when Abby Beltrani tipped in a pass from Aileen Johnson in the 10th minute to put Duke on the board. The Blue Devils opened up their lead in the 23rd minute with a penalty corner goal by Hannah Barreca, assisted by Beltrani and Emmie Le Marchand that gave them a 2-0 lead going into halftime.

The Duke defense shut down the Minutewomen in the first half, holding them to just one shot through the first frame.

“They’re very low tacklers and they defend in numbers,” UMass senior co-captain Hannah Prince said. “So, we realized we need to add more numbers, we need to go around the baseline, really get their feet exposed.”

The Minutewomen came out swinging in the second half, launching 10 shots, five on goal, but were only able to score once on a penalty stroke by Brooke Sabia in the 45th minute.

Meanwhile, Duke extended its lead further on a put-back goal by Jessica Buttinger in the 56th minute and a penalty corner goal by Heather Morris just a couple minutes later, assisted by Le Marchand and Grace Christus.

“We countered a bit in the second half and we generated enough attack to earn a point, make the game 2-1,” Tagliente said. “It was within reach, we just couldn’t get another to fall, and then, tide turned, and score line went the other way.”

Tagliente said that while the team will have plenty of work to do this offseason, it will take some time to reflect on the season that has just ended.

“I think we need some time to just let the season settle and enjoy what we have done,” she said. “We’ll take a step back for a couple months and we’ll regroup when the semester starts up again.”

Even though Prince’s collegiate career is now over, she is looking forward to seeing what the team will do next season.

“Obviously, it’s sad for me to be done, but I know this group, they’re very talented,” she said. “I definitely think that they’re going to make some noise next year.”

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on Twitter @jgms88.