UMass Lowell, Saint Louis on tap for UMass field hockey

UMass Lowell, Saint Louis on tap for UMass field hockey


(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

With the third seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament locked in, the Massachusetts field hockey team heads into the final weekend of the regular season looking to hit its stride before the tournament.

Coming off a dramatic comeback win against Northeastern University, UMass (8-9, 5-2 Atlantic 10) will look to keep the momentum going in a Thursday road game at UMass Lowell (8-8, 2-5 America East) before returning to Gladchuk Field for the final game of the regular season, an A-10 matchup with Saint Louis (3-11, 1-6 A-10).

“We’re preparing ourselves for UMass Lowell and Saint Louis to win those games, obviously, but also looking forward to the bigger picture, to the A-10 tournament,” coach Barb Weinberg said. “So, a lot of the stuff we’ve worked on this week is preparing us for our first game against VCU in conference play. We’ve had a great week coming off the Northeastern win, the comeback win and the momentum and the energy has been really great at practice this week.”

After that win against Northeastern, when redshirt freshman Meg Davies came in with a 4-0 deficit and oversaw a comeback win in double overtime, the starting goalkeeper spot seems to be up for grabs.

Davies made a number of key stops in that game, including several in the first overtime to save the game, and the UMass comeback started shortly after she entered.

“[Antonet Louw] got a goal quickly into that substitution, and Meg turned to me and she’s like, ‘You know what, we’re not going to lose. We’re going to win this,’” redshirt freshman defender Maddie Ellnor said. “And she said it with such a fire in her eyes, I said, ‘You’re right. We’re not going to lose this.’ And we really all just worked together. None of us wanted to lose to a team we’ve already beat. We just persevered, we were really gritty, and we just came up with a W, and it was awesome.”

Weinberg gave no indication whether Davies or freshman Johanna von dem Borne, the starter for most of the season, would be in the lineup on Thursday.

“That’s to be determined,” Weinberg said. “Meg came in huge and played really well against Northeastern, and they’ve both had a really great week of training, so we’ll see when the lineup comes out tomorrow.”

After giving up six goals against Boston College and four to Northeastern, the defense as a whole has struggled of late, but showed improvement in the late stages of Friday’s win.

“We worked on making tackles outside the circle so we weren’t giving up as many defensive penalty corners against Northeastern,” Weinberg said. “Didn’t work so well early in the game, but late in the game, the last 25 minutes or so, we really stepped up and we’re playing a little bit higher on the field. We’re just able to win the ball before they were able to create opportunities with their penalty corners.”

UMass Lowell has improved from last year, when the Minutewomen won 2-0 at Gladchuk Field. Led by goalkeeper Eva Berkhout, the River Hawks have allowed just 1.69 goals per game and recorded two shutouts on the year.

Heading into Thursday’s game, UMass is 5-0 all-time against UMass Lowell. In that time, a minor rivalry has developed and the winner is traditionally awarded the Kennedy Cup, named for John F. Kennedy.

Saint Louis is currently in the cellar of the A-10 with one conference win over La Salle in double overtime. Sunday’s game will begin with Senior Day ceremonies to honor UMass’ five seniors: Jamie Melley, Courtney Ocasal, Rachael Burchell, Maggie Harrison and graduate Clodagh Moloney.

“Mentality is that both of these games are going to help us get even more ready for the tournament,” Melley said. “Both of these games will be huge wins and we’ll finish our regular season over .500, that’s a big mentality going into this weekend, and just win it for Senior Day and beat UMass Lowell in the Kennedy Cup.”

Thursday’s game is slated to start at 3 p.m.

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