UMass field hockey upsets No. 25 Northeastern 2-0

Minutewomen defense limited Huskies’ scoring opportunities

By Anthony Syrek, Collegian Correspondent

It was an aggressive start on offense and smart execution on defense that allowed the Massachusetts women’s field hockey team to upset No. 25 Northeastern (6-4) 2-0, breaking its two-game losing streak.

The match was mostly dominated by defense, leaving UMass (4-6) to hold on to its 1-0 lead off a goal from midfielder Jess Beech just 34 seconds into the match, but the Huskies lost their chance to tie when forward Lucy Cooper iced the game with 15 seconds left to give the Minutewomen the victory and goalkeeper Marlise van Tonder her second shutout of the year.

“Out of all weeks I think we had our best week of preparation, really specifically how we wanted to come out against Northeastern, how we wanted to press, how we wanted to outlet,” coach Barb Weinberg said. “It’s been building. We felt we’ve had some really great performances against top opponents this season, and we knew this was eventually going to come.”

The biggest focus going into practice this week was trying to limit Northeastern’s offense, especially freshman Lauren Rowe, who had scored 12 goals in nine games coming in. The Huskies also have Camille O’Conor who is tied for 18th in the nation with seven goals in the first nine games.

“It was a huge part of our game plan,” coach Weinberg said about neutralizing Rowe. “For our defense to come out and put out an unbelievable effort and shut her down, they were very well prepared for that.”

The UMass defense ended up holding Rowe to just two shots the whole game and O’Conor with no shots. van Tonder felt very comfortable behind her defensive unit and felt its play was the key to the Minutewomen’s success.

“I love it,” van Tonder said. “It gives me so much confidence when I see everyone working hard and working together as a unit.”

Van Tonder faced three shots on net, earning her second shutout on the year. Although getting support from her defense, she made key defensive plays to prevent Northeastern from gaining momentum. Late in the first, van Tonder made a diving save in gaggle of Minutewomen and Huskies to preserve UMass’ lead.

On the offensive side, Weinberg said she wanted the team to be very aggressive in the opening minutes of the game.

“It was a huge part of our game plan to move the ball quickly,” said coach Weinberg. “Anytime you can start a game with that sort of momentum it is going to put the opponent on their heels.”

She also added there was some definite improvement on the offensive side compared to last week’s game against Richmond, but the Minutewomen need to focus on keeping their composure.

“We need to remember this feeling,” Weinberg said. “This is just the start of momentum going forward.”

UMass is set to face New Hampshire Sunday before setting off on its three-game road trip.

Anthony Syrek can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ASyrek.