Melanie Kreusch has career day in UMass field hockey team’s win over Saint Francis

By Tyler Fiedler

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Freshman Melanie Kreusch had the best game of her young career in the Massachusetts field hockey team’s win over powerhouse Saint Francis on Sunday.

With her father in attendance, Kreusch completed a hat trick, including a late-second half goal to clinch a 3-2 Minutewomen victory.

After trailing 1-0 and being outplayed for most of the first half, the Minutewomen (5-7, 3-1 Atlantic 10) scored two unanswered goals to take the lead with under 12 minutes to play.

The Red Flash tied the game roughly two minutes later, but Kreusch provided the game-winner in the 69th minute to hand Saint Francis (8-1, 2-1 A-10) its first loss of the season.

It was even more significant for Kreusch because her father traveled all the way from Belgium to watch his daughter score all three of UMass’ goals.

“It feels fantastic,” Kreusch said. “I can’t really describe it, having my dad in attendance, it was just all perfect.”

Kreusch has become a trusted goal scorer for the Minutewomen in 2014. She’s scored four goals in the last two games and leads the team with five goals for the year.

“(Kreusch) has played great hockey all year,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “She has really been able to come into her own and help us all season.”

UMass came out for the second half with the aggression and hunger it has displayed throughout its current three-game winning streak, and held position in Saint Francis’ zone for most of the half.

Kreusch tied the game at one apiece at the 53:33 mark on a penalty corner with assists from Izzie Delario and Tory Berry. The Minutewomen were awarded another penalty corner 10 minutes later, allowing Kreusch to convert her second score of the day on assists from Delario and Hailey Cockrum.

“We gutted it out and were able to capitalize on a lot of things,” Tagliente said. “Our execution was excellent.”

UMass scored on three of its seven penalty corners, an area that the Red Flash – who finished 0-for-2 on penalty corners – are usually dominant in, according to Tagliente.

“(Saint Francis) is a very good, scrappy team,” Tagliente said. “They have great goal scorers but we did a good job maintaining them.”

Following the game, Tagliente said that beating the previously-undefeated team will energize the Minutewomen as they continue their A-10 schedule.

“This win was a big confidence booster,” Tagliente said. “We have now won three conference games in a row, it does wonders for our confidence.”

Before making its comeback in the second half, UMass nearly took a lead before halftime, but two potential goals were waved off. The first goal was a shot from outside the circle that was immediately called back even though it appeared to have hit the Red Flash goalkeeper. The second instance was waved off because the referee called a penalty corner before the goal went in.

“I told them to put the first half behind them,” Tagliente said. “We had a couple calls waved off but we rebounded really nicely.”

After dropping their first conference game on Sept. 26, the Minutemen have now rattled off three straight wins, allowing them to move up to a second place tie in the A-10, despite being 5-7 on the season.

UMass travels to Saint Joseph’s on Friday for its next conference game. The game is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. at Ellen Ryan Field.

Tyler Fiedler can be reached by email [email protected] and on Twitter @Tyler_Fiedler.