UMass field hockey splits weekend matches with UNH and BU

By Philip Sanzo

Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian
Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts field hockey team followed up a heart-breaking loss in its season opener to New Hampshire Saturday night with a thrilling 2-1 victory over No. 20 Boston University Sunday night.

The defense stole the show for both sides during the Minutewomen’s battle with the Terriers that produced only three combined goals.

Despite the low score, UMass (1-1) set the scene for a blow out early on, scoring two quick goals within the opening 12 minutes.

The scoring started when a crashing offensive bid on the BU defense resulted in the ball finding Nicole Kuerzi, who converted for her first goal of the season.

Less than five minutes later, sophomore Melanie Kreusch converted on a penalty stroke to give UMass its early 2-0 lead.

“We put in two nice goals early and had a great first half, really it was similar to UNH in a way,” Minutewomen coach Carla Tagliente said.

Fifty two minutes passed before another goal was scored by the Terriers’ Bea Baumberger. After the early goals that UMass put up, its offense stood quiet for the remainder of the game as BU’s attack appeared to be the more aggressive team.

“We were a little uptight and playing a lot defense, we were not connecting on some of our passes and that dominoed some things, but I do think our defense came together a bit better,” Tagliente said.

Tagliente mentioned the importance of getting through these small struggles now, early in the season.

The Minutewomen’s stellar defense held onto the small lead established early on despite the Terriers coming close to scoring on UMass senior goalkeeper Sam Carlino multiple times for the tie. Carlino finished with five saves Sunday.

The Terriers earned three penalty corners in a four-minute span in the middle of the second half, yet were unable to cash in on any of them.

“Today we stepped up a lot with our communication, as a young back line we were focusing on communicating and just being patient and stepping up and being outside the circle,” Carlino said.

UMass falls to UNH in Saturday opener

UMass’ 2015 campaign began Saturday with a 4-3 overtime loss to UNH as the Minutewomen built a 3-1 halftime lead only to surrender it over the final 35 minutes.

The game couldn’t have started out any better offensively for UMass, who quickly jumped out ahead with two goals by Sarah Hawkshaw and Kreusch.

Hawkshaw, a sophomore midfielder/forward, scored again later in the half only seconds before the whistle blew for halftime.

After Sunday’s game, Hawkshaw said she wants to establish herself as one of the top offensive forces for the Minutewomen.

“Last year I wasn’t able to score as well as I wanted to but it was great to start off this year being able to score the opening goal and my second too,” she said.

The wheels came off for the Minutewomen late in the second half however, when the Wildcats’ Lindsey Nerbonne and Gianna Bensaia each scored a goal to tie up the game and send it into overtime. Bensaia’s goal came on a penalty stroke.

Not soon after overtime began, Nerbonne scored her third goal of the game on a penalty stroke in the fifth minute to secure the victory for UNH.

“It was a tale of two halves really. We came out in the second half, not flat per say, but tight and playing not to lose,” Tagliente said. “It kind of just fell apart at the seams, if the game was only 35 minutes long it would have been an outstanding win, but the game is not, it’s 70.

“We just need to finish games out better.”

UMass returns to play in its third straight game in Boston to open the season against Northeastern on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.