Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass field hockey falls in first round of NCAA tournament to No. 1 Syracuse

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

Despite a late comeback attempt, the Massachusetts field hockey team bowed out of the first round of the NCAA tournament to No. 1 Syracuse University 4-2 Saturday afternoon in Syracuse, New York.

The Minutewomen (12-9, 5-3 Atlantic 10) played well in the first half, limiting the high-powered offense of Syracuse (18-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to just one goal. The narrative shifted in the second half, however, as the Orange stormed out of the gates with three goals in just five minutes, extending their lead to, 4-0.

“I think we actually controlled most of the play in the first half and we all felt good coming into the second,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said on this defensive lapse in the second half. “Unfortunately they were able to score a few quick goals due to some good play and poor defense, which really put us in steep hole.”

However, UMass chipped away at the score in the 60th minute, as Shauna Rankin-Byrne scored her fourth goal of the season on an assist from Melanie Kreusch. Just three minutes later, the Minutewomen added a second tally when Sarah Hawkshaw found the back of the net unassisted for her ninth of the season. UMass continued to push forward to try and close the gap, but in the end, the Minutewomen failed to find another breakthrough.

“There were a few moments there when we could have scored and gotten it to 3-4, but we just couldn’t keep possession in their half for long enough,” Tagliente said. “We started to give the ball away sloppily and because of that we couldn’t create good chances. Overall though, I am really proud of this team. They never gave up and they kept on fighting like we have all year long.”

Syracuse held the advantage in penalty corners (8-to-1) and outshot the Minutewomen (29-to-3), a testament to the skill of the Orange and their defense strong defensive unit.

On the other side, UMass did a good job in limiting Syracuse to only four goals despite its flurry of shots. Senior goalkeeper Sam Carlino was at the heart of that defense and recorded 11 saves (15 shots on target) in her final game of her UMass career.

“We knew coming in that Syracuse had a really strong team. I think our defense did a great job of staying organized and keeping them out,” Carlino said. “We definitely had some good moments, but unfortunately they were able to get through on some defensive lapses.

“I thought Sam stepped up and played really well for us. Unfortunately, when the other team has that many shots it’s almost impossible to keep them all out.”

Saturday’s defeat marks the end of UMass’ 2015 season following an A-10 championship and a win in its play-in match with Kent State. For the Minutewomen, the future looks extremely bright as they return most of their talent.

“I think we have a really good team that has a great young core,” she said. “We are only graduating two seniors and I think that over the offseason we are going to get a lot better as we come together.

Carlino, one of those two seniors, had one final message for the team following the loss.

“I know this team has the potential to be really good and my advice for everyone is just to fight to the end in every game and to never give up,” she said.

Nicholas Casale can be reached at [email protected]

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