Georgie McTear leads UMass to 2-0 weekend against Saint Louis and Yale

McTear scored twice Sunday, once Friday

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Thom Kendall/ UMass Athletics

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts field hockey team extended its win streak to three games following a pair of wins over the weekend. No. 20 UMass (9-4, 2-1 Atlantic 10) defeated Saint Louis 2-1 on Friday before returning home to beat Yale 3-0 on Sunday.

The Minutewomen showed dominance in both performances, particularly on the offensive end, outshooting the Billikens (1-12, 0-5 A-10) 21-5 in their first game of the weekend and generating a significant number of scoring chances against the Bulldogs (4-7, 1-2 Ivy League).

McTear sparks UMass offense

Guiding the Minutewomen offense in each game was Georgie McTear. The England native had a quiet stretch of games after scoring three goals early in the season. Ever since she buried the shootout goal that helped lift UMass over Boston College, McTear has been reinvigorated on the offensive end.

On Friday, McTear found the back of the net for the go-ahead goal with under six minutes to play in regulation. Against Yale, the Minutewomen rode a one-goal lead into the fourth quarter. McTear eliminated any chance of a Bulldogs comeback, scoring a pair of goals to put the game out of reach, including a missle into the top right corner of the goal with under a minute left in the contest.

“Obviously it feels great, but it’s not just me,” McTear said of her performance over the weekend. “It’s people getting up the field and [me] just taking a shot and hoping that it goes in, but it does feel nice to get the goals.”

McTear’s stick skills allow her to score in a variety of ways from virtually any angle, and that was a part of UMass’ strategy Sunday after attempting a lot of straight-line shots on Friday. Counting on McTear to lead by example in that department gave the Minutewomen offense a lot of life.

“It was nice, [McTear] has been training hard,” head coach Barb Weinberg said. “Something we struggled with against Saint Louis was hitting the ball right at their goalkeeper, so [for her] to score a couple of goals that went in the corners, and the beautiful one there at the end, really nice to go around the goalkeeper.”

Penalty corners prove crucial

UMass and the Bulldogs combined for over 20 corner attempts on Sunday afternoon, winning those battles within the circle were vital for the Minutewomen to come away with a victory.

A stretch by each team in the third quarter exemplified the 60-minute battle on those set pieces. Early in that frame UMass attempted three corners in a row. Each time it got a better opportunity, but the first two didn’t get past Yale goalkeeper Luanna Summer. Its third attempt was the sloppiest of the bunch, with the initial shot mishandled. But the Minutewomen kept fighting and eventually Josie Rossbach corralled the loose ball and pushed it past summer.

As unrelenting as it was on the offensive end UMass was equally unrelenting when faced with three straight penalty corners on its defensive side later in the quarter. The Minutewomen held firm on all three attempts and kept its one goal lead as the third quarter expired.

By the end of the game UMass scored all three of its goals as a result of penalty corners, and that spoke volumes not only to the execution on the field, but also the preparation heading into the weekend.

“We knew for Yale’s corner defense their goalkeeper is solid and she usually makes the first save,” Weinberg said. “So, for us the emphasis was on tips and rebounds, and we were able to capitalize on that.”

In total, four of the five Minutewomen goals over the weekend were generated by penalty corners, and the defense did not allow any corner goals in 10 combined attempts by St. Louis and the Bulldogs.

UMass controls the pace of play

The Minutewomen are at their best when playing with control, and over the weekend they were completely in control for nearly the full 120 minutes of game action.

On Friday, UMass limited the Billikens to just one shot through the first three quarters. Even for the long stretch where the game was tied, the Minutewomen possessed the ball with such control that the game-winning goal seemed inevitable before it even happened.

On Sunday that possession extended even further. While Yale struggled to connect on long-range passes, UMass did so with relative ease, and maintained a firm grip on the pacing of the game, playing towards its advantage, and that extended once it earned a lead in the game.

“All four quarters we were playing a beautiful hockey game really moving the ball well,” Weinberg said. “And our passing was on, it’s the type of hockey we like to play.”

Every phase of the game seemed to click in favor of the Minutewomen over the weekend, and now they will head into an important stretch of A-10 conference play with plenty of momentum from their three-game winning streak.

UMass returns to the turf on Friday for a home contest against Saint Josephs at 3 p.m.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.