Melanie Kreusch looks to continue freshman success

By Tyler Fiedler

 (Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)
(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

It was a chilly day in October when Saint Francis University came to Amherst for a pivotal Atlantic 10 Conference match. The Red Flash entered the game undefeated at 8-0 while the Massachusetts field hockey team was an underachieving 4-7.

Saint Francis took a 1-0 lead early, however the Minutewomen tied the score, behind a penalty corner from freshman Melanie Kreusch. Minutes later Kreusch scored her second of the game to take the 2-1 lead. In the 68th minute, with the score tied at two, the Minutewomen had a chance to take  a late lead  with a penalty corner.

There was no surprise that Kreusch was lined up to take the shot.

Cliodhna Loughlin fielded the corner and passed it to Kreusch who smoked a shot passed the Red Flash goaltender for her third goal of the game and second game-winning goal of the season.

Kreusch had three game-winning goals in 2014. She had the knack for adrenaline pumping goals. She finished the season with 10 goals, six of which came via the penalty corner.

Coming into the 2015 season, Kreusch will look to expand on her freshman year and help the Minutewomen get back to the top of the conference. However, with strong depth defensively, head coach Carla Tagliente does not want to put high expectations on the standout sophomore.

“I think for Melanie, she had a great season last year and a busy summer,” Tagliente said. “We hope she can pick up where she left out a year ago.

While Melanie may be one of the more quiet players on the team, her leadership is without question.

“With a year of experience, we expect her to take on more of a leadership role,” Tagliente said.

“I’m trying to (take a leadership role),” Kreusch said. “I am more of a one-on-one leader. I see if someone is down and I try to push them up.”

There is a different type of leadership role Melanie takes on. Her on-the-field play and work ethic is second-to-none for UMass. Her busy offseason consisted of participating in a four-month high performance training camp in Boston. She also played with the United States Under-19 team and national team.

Kreusch spoke highly of all of the experiences, especially with how much she has improved.

“Playing for the U19 and national team were really helpful,” Kreusch said. “It was different but I liked it because I had different players to play with and we gave each other feedback.”

Kreusch has seen her confidence rise after a strong freshman campaign. Working with the national teams has certainly given her more confidence as well as things to work on. Tagliente feels the same way.

“Where she has grown is she has more experience and confidence,” Tagliente said. “The spring and summer have been super beneficial for her in terms of her growth.”

However, being from abroad could be hard on most players coming to the states for school. Kreusch, a Belgium native, has  family support to keep her pushing forward. Her parents, Jean and Teresa, make a strong effort to catch a couple of her games a year. Her father Jean was there for her game against St. Francis.

“Having my parents come means a lot and having their support is big for me,” Kreusch said. “I also have family in Michigan so the transition hasn’t been as hard for me.”

Kreusch knows that it can be difficult being so far away from your family, especially being from out of the country.

“I try to help the freshmen who are not from here,” Kreusch said. “I know it can be difficult so I try to always be there for them.”

“(Kreusch has a) good head on her shoulders and is a great teammate,” Tagliente said.

Four games into the 2015 campaign Kreusch has scored three goals on eight shots. The Minutewomen are currently 2-2 on the season with their home-opener this Friday against UMass Lowell.

Tyler Fiedler can be reached at [email protected]