Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass field hockey wins A-10 regular season title with win over SLU

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts field hockey team earned the Atlantic 10 regular season title with a 5-1 win Sunday over Saint Louis on Senior Day.

The win gave UMass the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. This is the second straight year the Minutewomen will be the No.1 seed as they look to defend their conference title.

“It was a goal these guys set,” Tagliente said. “I am happy for the team to win a game or a championship or anything, to win the league is great and we will enjoy this today.”

In a game where the Minutewomen (10-9, 7-1 A-10) celebrated their three departing seniors in their final game at Garber Field, it was the underclassmen who led UMass to victory. Freshmen Sarah Hawkshaw and Melanie Kreusch provided the spark needed to get the Minutewomen going against a team that came in with only two wins on the season and none in conference play.

Hawkshaw stole the show for the Minutewomen, scoring the first two goals of the game. After a scoreless first half, UMass finally got past Saint Louis (2-17, 0-8) goalkeeper Tori Westhead as Hawkshaw capitalized on her fifth goal of the season in the 38th minute.

That first goal opened up the floodgates for the Minutewomen, who scored five-unanswered goals before the Billikens added their lone goal in the 68th minute.

“(Hawkshaw) had a great start to the second half,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “I think they were able to relax after that.”

With her two goals Sunday, Hawkshaw now has six goals and 15 points for the season, good for third and fourth on the team.

“Both of (the goals) were pretty similar,” Hawkshaw said. “Once we finally got one in it created the momentum and gave us the confidence to put more in.”

The Minutewomen controlled the ball for most of the game, outshooting Saint Louis 21-5.

Penalty corners was another area of strength for UMass, which had an 11-1 advantage in that category.

Kreusch added her team-leading ninth goal of the season off of a penalty corner from Allie Sabia and Hailey Cockrum.

Redshirt freshman Shauna Rankin-Byrne saw her minutes increase with a 3-0 lead and took advantage of her added playing time. Rankin-Byrne scored her first collegiate goal with eight minutes remaining in the game.

“I thought we came out pretty well,” Tagliente said. “We had a flurry of shots and we were able to relax.”

Renee Suter was the lone senior to get a point (an assist) for the Minutewomen Sunday with Mariajose Rodriguez unable to play and Lauren Allymohamed leaving the game in the first half with an injury.

UMass will take its top seed to Richmond, Virginia, as it begins the A-10 tournament next weekend. The Minutewomen will look to ride its momentum into the playoffs after winning eight of their final 10 regular season matchups.

“There has been a lot of parity in the conference this year,” Tagliente said. “We look forward to playing this weekend and take what we have gained from his season and move forward at this point.”

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

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