Late game heroics lift UMass over UConn 2-1 in double overtime

Jess Beech scores game-winner for the Minutewomen

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Anish Roy / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Connecticut controlled the offensive end for the entirety of Sunday’s contest, but two clutch goals ultimately gave the Massachusetts field hockey team the victory after two overtimes.

In 58 minutes, No. 20 UMass (12-5, 4-2 Atlantic -10) took under three shots on goal total. In the remaining time of regulation, on a second chance attempt at a corner penalty, Mus Defauwes punched in her sixth goal of the season to tie things up at one a piece. Following a lethargic first overtime period where neither team secured the golden goal, Jess Beech scored the game winner in the blind spot of No. 18 UConn’s (9-9, 5-1 Big East) goalkeeper in the waning minutes of the second overtime frame.

“We had a bit of a slow start, we came out flat,” head coach Barb Weinberg said. “Had a lot of turnovers, had trouble out letting it against UConn…I thought in the third quarter Jess Beech did a fantastic job of just sparking something with her energy and her communication. Once we started to build that momentum in the third quarter, we were able to capitalize right before the end of regulation.”

By overtime period, UConn’s frustration met with the hunger of a revamped UMass team meant things were physical and chippy on the field. The visible fatigue from both teams didn’t stop critical shot attempts. Van Tonder’s diving save with under eight minutes in the first overtime period set the tone that she wasn’t giving in anytime soon. The remainder of the period saw a repeat in heroic saves from van Tonder as the Huskies’ skillful shot attempts kept UMass’ goalie on her toes from the start.

To start Sunday’s contest, the Minutewomen did not see the ball connect as well on offense as they did on Friday. UMass didn’t fall back into old habits of depending on backwards ball movement, but UConn continuously intercepted passes. The Huskies got on the board early with a crisp rocket of a shot on a corner play and had their fair share of attempts following the first goal as well.

Following Lindsay Dickinson’s goal, UConn forcefully moved the ball in high-speed transition to minimize time UMass had to recover. When the Minutewomen were a bit sloppy with passes and slow to the punch to receive, the Huskies took advantage. Despite only scoring once on the day, UMass was outplayed on the offensive end.

With six minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Minutewomen had their best attempt on the half when Beech passed the ball across the goal line but too much power meant Defauwes couldn’t stop and collect in time to get a shot off.

What would have been a turning point early in the game for UMass almost turned into another golden opportunity for the Huskies when again, off a quick transition, van Tonder had to run out and make a sliding save to prevent a 2-0 lead for UConn after an almost 1-1 tying goal.

Time after time, van Tonder prevented a complete change of pace by not allowing the Huskies to see daylight again after their early goal. UMass was just unable to productively move the ball forward after the saves to knock at UConn’s door until the final minutes of the game.

Each team had its fair share of pick-pocketing and flow stopping moments, but UConn more effectively capitalized on the opportunities. Van Tonder finished the day with 11 saves, and the Huskies’ Cheyenne Sprecher finished with three. Sunday marked van Tonder’s third game of the season with double-digit saves.

“We hung in there, [van Tonder] had 11 saves which was huge for us,” Weinberg said. “And then when we pulled the goalkeeper at the end of the game, you often have the upper hand in those situations because it is a little bit of chaos…by our defense keeping us in the game keeping the score line at 1-0 and having one opportunity at the end we were able to come away with it.”

The Huskies outshot the Minutewomen 12-5 with shots on goals and had a 10-5 advantage in penalty corners drawn. Despite UConn’s domination, UMass ultimately finished the job when it needed to.

The Minutewomen end their regular season on the road against A-10 opponent Lock Haven on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 11 a.m.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.