Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass field hockey wins third straight to close out regular season

Lucy Cooper scores two in regular season finale against Saint Louis

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UMass field hockey wins third straight to close out regular season

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

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Clodagh Moloney’s penalty stroke goal gave the Massachusetts field hockey team a late two-goal lead, and the Minutewomen held on for a 4-3 Senior Day win over Saint Louis on Sunday.

After senior forward Rachel Burchell was tripped up in front of the goal in the 66th minute, Moloney stepped up and fired a shot past goalkeeper Sasha Sander to extend the lead to 4-2. UMass (10-9, 6-2 Atlantic 10) gave up a late goal, but closed out SLU (4-12, 1-7 A-10) to end the regular season on a high note.

Moloney made her presence felt throughout the field on Sunday, scoring and spearheading a strong defensive effort to stifle the Billikens in the second half. The goal was the first at UMass for Moloney, a graduate student from Cork College in Ireland who joined the Minutewomen this season.

“We had discussed it maybe two weeks ago, myself and one of the coaches, that myself or Antonet [Louw] would take it,” Moloney said. “Antonet was off, so I decided that in one of my last games at Gladchuk, I would step up and see if I could put one away for the season.”

UMass trailed 2-1 coming out of halftime, but the Minutewomen overwhelmed the Saint Louis defense in the beginning of the second period. Sophomore Lucy Cooper was all over the field for the Minutewomen and tied the game in the 40th minute, when she took a pass from Sara Davis at the back post and shot across the goal.

Cooper scored again seven minutes later, scooping up a deflected shot by Georgie McTear and putting it in the back of the net to give UMass its first lead.

“I’m really inconsistent, I guess you could say, with those deflections on the side, because Georgie’s hits aren’t always on the ground, so it’s always hard to get a touch on those,” Cooper said. “But the corner before that, [assistant coach Sarah] Mansfield told me, ‘Get your stick on the ground,’ and that one I did it, so I was really happy about that.”

While Cooper scored the two goals, freshman forward Chloe Hillier also had a big impact on the offense in 31 minutes on the field.

“For me, Chloe was the player of the match,” coach Barb Weinberg said. “It was her best game of the season today. She was able to create a lot for us up front and keep possession for us in the attacking third, which is something that we’ve been working on for the last few weeks.”

For the third straight game, the Minutewomen got off to a slow start, allowing SLU to take an early lead. After several attacking opportunities fell apart for UMass, the Billikens came back and scored on their first shot on goal, a one-timer from Emily Wastell put in by Carly Kissinger in the 13th minute.

Louw scored on a penalty corner 14 minutes later to tie the game, but SLU came right back. The Billikens took a 2-1 lead on a penalty corner goal, as Jordan Besore’s shot snuck past goalkeeper Johanna Von dem Borne inside the left post.

Von dem Borne, who also made two nice saves, came out at halftime for the second straight game, replaced by redshirt freshman Megan Davies. Davies allowed a goal in the second half on the one shot she faced.

“Johanna is just an animal in the goal, it’s insane,” Moloney said. “But Meg has come on so much in the last four or five weeks. When she came on at Northeastern, she did not do one thing wrong. So she’s earned her place, and I think she deserves to be in the goal for half the game. Both of them are obviously very solid goalies. I think they’re both going to push each other now for spots at the A-10 and maybe even next year.”

SLU made it interesting late, as Wastell took the ball down the right side and into the circle to set up a shot that got past Davies. The goal cut the lead to one with 2:17 remaining, but UMass was able to run out the clock and preserve the win.

Sunday was the final game of the regular season and the final home game for the Minutewomen, and it was preceded by Senior Day ceremonies. Five players were honored – Burchell, Moloney, captain Jamie Melley, Courtney Ocasal and Maggie Harrison, all of whom started for the Minutewomen.

The emotions of the day contributed to the slow start for UMass, but also gave extra motivation to pull out the win.

“I think it was just a matter of doing it for the seniors, and whether we wanted it enough, because today’s game didn’t affect our standing in the A-10 tournament,” Cooper said. “It was basically just to say that we won, and I think that really took us up a level in the second half.”

Sunday’s win marked the first time that UMass has been above .500 all season, as the Minutewomen won their third straight to finish the season at 10-9. With the regular season concluded, UMass heads into the A-10 tournament as the third seed and will take on Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals on Friday.

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

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