UMass field hockey falls 1-0 against Providence

Despite strong showing, Minutewomen take the loss

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UMass field hockey falls 1-0 against Providence

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

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A goal from the back post in the 41st minute was all Providence needed to secure a win over the Massachusetts field hockey team, which fell 1-0 to the Friars on Sunday afternoon.

After limiting Providence (7-5, 2-1 Big East) to two shots in the first half, UMass (5-7, 3-1 Atlantic 10) looked sluggish in the beginning of the second half. Junior Izzy Mendez capitalized in the 41st minute for the only goal of the game.

“I think there was maybe a two-minute period, the time they actually scored, where no one really knew who was marking,” defender Clodagh Moloney said. “A few people thought they were the free player, and then, I’m sure if we looked back at that goal, one, two and three people may have dived in and left the person at the back post free. It’s difficult for [goalkeeper Johanna von dem Borne] to get those if it’s put in the back post on a good ball.”

Immediately after the goal, the Minutewomen came back with a flurry of shots of their own, concluding with a wide shot from Antonet Louw five minutes later. Providence goalkeeper Lydia Rice held up, making three of her five saves in the five minutes after the goal.

After failing to convert, UMass was unable to muster another shot on goal.

“We had our chances,” coach Barb Weinberg said. “But [it was] just the little things when you’re playing such an evenly matched contest, being on the far post to tap in those goals. Shooting two inches wide is the difference between a win and a loss.”

UMass managed only five shots on goal, but had nine shots and three penalty corners. Particularly in the final minutes, every time the Minutewomen got the ball into the Providence backfield, a missed shot or foot foul would cost them possession.

“We did everything right up until the last 25, and we just couldn’t score,” Moloney said. “We just weren’t clinical, and if you’re not clinical against a team – if you score zero goals, you’re never going to win a game.”

With 10 minutes to go, as the Providence attack swarmed, Moloney and forward Lucy Cooper got cards within thirty seconds of each other. The Minutewomen managed to get the ball and keep the Friars from scoring, but it cost UMass precious time to attempt a comeback.

“We basically put one forward up high and just defended — parked the bus, as we say at home — just defended until I got back on,” Moloney said. “It’s kind of manageable with 10 people, but when it’s nine, you just have to defend. You can’t really go with an attacking mindset, you just have to park the bus and not let them have the ball, just play it around the back until time ticks down and that extra player gets back in.”

Two days after shutting out Davidson, the UMass defense held up well against the Providence attack. Despite concerns about fundamentals, the Minutewomen played a clean game throughout, without the errors that had plagued them in previous games.

“The first 35 minutes were the best hockey that we’ve played all season,” Weinberg said. “So even though we didn’t get the result, [we’re] moving forward to next weekend against Richmond and VCU knowing that we just played the best hockey of the season.”

For Moloney, the strong showing just made the loss harder to swallow.

“To be honest, we’re all just a bit annoyed, and we don’t really know how we lost that,” Moloney said. “I’m sure the stats will say that we had much of the possession. I don’t know. We’re just going to have to work on goal-scoring this week.”

UMass will go on the road next week for two A-10 games against Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth.

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @thainessports.