UMass field hockey takes down Saint Francis for its second win over the weekend

Crawford and Gottwals come off the bench to bring offensive power in 2-0 victory

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UMass field hockey takes down Saint Francis for its second win over the weekend

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

By Justin Ekstrom, Collegian Staff

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Massachusetts field hockey improved to 4-2 in the Atlantic 10 after a successful weekend on the road, including a win this Sunday against Saint Francis. The Minutewomen (7-7, 4-2 A-10) extended their phenomenal defensive play into Sunday’s match and captured their fifth shutout of the season.

Starting with a 4-1 victory over Yale in New Haven back on Sept. 6, UMass has won six straight road games for the first time in over a decade. The Minutewomen have taken down Dartmouth, Saint Louis, Davidson, Lock Haven and now Saint Francis (4-11, 1-4 A-10), all away from home. For this, preparation is the key.

“They buckled down this week and it was one moment at a time, one day at a time for their preparation, and they really approached this weekend in the same manner,” coach Barb Weinberg said.

With the 2-0 victory, junior keeper Marlise van Tonder recorded her first back-to-back shutouts with UMass. She notched four saves in 60 minutes of play and has allowed only one goal during the Minutewomen’s three-game A-10 winning streak.

Van Tonder started both games in net this weekend but saw little action and faced less than five shots on goal from either Lock Haven or Saint Francis. UMass played exceptionally as a unit on defense and limited the opposing offensive chances, helping to keep van Tonder’s clean sheet.

“Our defense after our opening weekend this year has really played strong,” Weinberg said. “We’re giving up very few goals, and we have a couple of young people in the backfield coupled with some experience. We’re just really able to tackle strong and deny other teams from entering our circle and that held strong this weekend.”

UMass successfully prevented opportunities off of penalty corners. The Red Flash were limited to two chances in the first half — one penalty corner in each of the first two quarters — and denied by the Minutewomen defense.

With a single game last weekend, UMass had the benefit of a full seven days to prepare for these A-10 matchups and the circumstantial difficulties that arise from playing on turf. SFU plays on field turf, unlike UMass and most teams’ AstroTurf pitches. This change enables faster play due to quicker rolls and predictability, allowing for players to think their moves through in advance.

“We had one day of preparation at Amherst College on the turf field before we came down and we were able to train on Saturday as well at Saint Francis,” Weinberg said. “It’s a bit of a different game on that surface. It is more of hitting the long ball through and dumping the ball into space to run onto it. I thought our team really adjusted to that style of play.”

In Sunday’s game, UMass freshmen Emily Crawford and Steph Gottwals came off the bench to make a difference on offense. Lucy Cooper put the ball past keeper Claudia Marzec 7:33 into the match off an assist from Crawford. Cooper, a team captain, has been on fire since Oct. 4 against Northeastern, scoring or assisting in every game since.

Crawford now has one goal and three assists in conference play, making an impact during these crucial matchups. She finished with 33 minutes in the win over the Red Flash.

UMass dominated the ball until the very end despite not finding the back of the net in the final 35 minutes of play. It earned seven penalty corners — none of which were scored on — and continued to shoot on net, finishing with 18 shots (12 in the second half) and nine on goal.

Gottwals stood out among the players hunting for goals, putting up five shots on her way to scoring her first goal of the year.

“Steph has really been goal hungry,” Weinberg said. “She went through an extensive video session with the staff last night. I felt today was her day, and she got her first goal of the season.”

The Minutewomen take on La Salle on Friday, Oct. 25 at home.

Justin Ekstrom can be reached at [email protected]