UMass field hockey falls to No. 20 Albany in final minutes

McTear scores lone goal in a 2-1 defeat

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UMass field hockey falls to No. 20 Albany in final minutes

Nina Walat

Nina Walat

Nina Walat

By Justin Ekstrom, Collegian Staff

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With the score tied and under five minutes to play, Cosima Rocktaeschel of Albany ripped a shot which was tipped in by forward Kelsey McCrudden, and the Massachusetts field hockey team was unable to come back in a 2-1 loss.

The Minutewomen (2-3) waited four matches before getting the chance to play on their home turf and faced a stiff test in No. 20 Albany (2-3). The match was hard fought and came down to a decisive fourth quarter, where the Great Danes took the lead back for good.

Albany started the match by dumping the ball to the back right of the UMass defense, charging ahead to pressure the Minutewomen on defense – a strategy which gave UMass trouble at times and led to seven Albany penalty corners in comparison to UMass’ one. On the seventh, Rocktaeschel and McCrudden combined for the latter’s second goal of the season to decide the game.

The margin of victory for Albany might have been much larger if not for the consistent stops and interceptions made by the Minutewomen in their defensive half and during these penalties.

“We were really well prepared for penalty corners,” goalkeeper Marlise van Tonder said. “We knew what they are capable of doing and we have a solid defensive unit. It’s not nice to defend a million corners in a game, but we were up to the task.”

One of three UMass keepers who will be sharing time in net this season, van Tonder made six saves in her first start, playing just over 56 minutes between the bars.

“She’s had a great week of training and really settled into the team since she arrived a week and a half ago,” coach Barb Weinberg said postgame. “She was the right start for this game.”

Earlier in the fourth, van Tonder made a huge glove save on the second of two straight penalty corners taken by the Great Danes. UMass improved defensively in the second half, displaying its ability to adjust against a top-ranked team.

“I felt that we matched Albany today,” midfielder Georgie McTear said. “The defense was put under a lot of pressure and we really stepped up with that pressure. We were man-to-man, getting our bodies in the line of goal, and trying to come up with interceptions. We had a lot of turnovers which is a really positive thing going into Harvard.”

UMass also picked up their offensive stride after a slow first half that saw Albany controlling a majority of possession and left the Minutewomen trailing 1-0. Their shots doubled after halftime, due in large part to strong fast breaks such as the one in the third quarter leading to the lone UMass goal.

Sophie Johnson started with a quick push up the right side after she won the ball close to half. After controlling it, she maneuvered herself around an opposing defender and dropped the ball off to McTear.

“I passed it, got ahead, and got the rebound – something we have been working on,” McTear said. “I just ran into the goal, saw the ball coming to me and just wanted to finish it, so I did.”

The aggressive nature of Saturday’s match stood out just as much as the tenacious press of Albany and speed of UMass transitional offense. Whistles blew throughout the game and a total of six cards were handed out.

“Albany is strong and physical and we were getting bumped off the ball a lot,” Weinberg said. “Something we need to work on is definitely being strong on the ball or moving the ball more so they don’t have the chance to be physical.”

UMass will host No. 10 Harvard on Monday at 5 p.m.

Justin Ekstrom can be reached at [email protected]