UMass freshmen’s goals lead to a 3-1 win over Columbia

Gabrielle Benkenstein opens up scoring for the Minutewomen

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Kayla Gregoire, Assistant Sports Editor

It was a rainy Sunday, but the Massachusetts field hockey team’s freshmen did not allow that to stop them from guiding their team to a 3-1 win over Columbia.

“It’s exciting,” UMass head coach Barb Weinberg said on freshman scoring. “That’s what we want is for players to score. It’s also great to have balance throughout our team so during those rotations we can have goal scorers at every moment.”

The Minutewomen (7-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) were dominant to start off the game, knowing exactly where to place themselves during plays. From an easy pass by Jess Beech to Bella Ianni being at the right place at the right time, UMass was communicating to make clean plays.

“We typically do a good job of communicating and we have a strong leadership group,” Weinberg said. “I thought the communication today was top notch.”

Defense was putting continuous pressure on the Tigers (2-5) to keep them out of the circle. The Minutewomen were cutting off the Tigers’ passes and keeping them to the outside. When Columbia managed to get in the circle, the defense kept them to just one shot in the first half. The Tigers were attempting to put the ball in the air to get around the Minutewomen, but the ball almost always landed on a UMass player’s stick.

The one time the defense faltered was in the second half after allowing a goal to Meg Bowden with six minutes left in the third with the goal being assisted by Anabelle Brodeur.

Offensively, the Minutewomen were being aggressive, ending the first half with 10 shots on goal.

The freshmen were the ones to come up with two goals to start the first half. Gabrielle Benkenstein started it off when she swept the ball in from the left side of Columbia goalkeeper Katie Wimmer. Not long after, Mali Herberhold faked out Wimmer to leave a wide-open net. As Wimmer dove to the side, multiple Columbia players ran to the front of the goal, but Herberhold got past the defenders to make a 2-0 game.

“I thought we really used our depth effectively today,” Weinberg said. “We knew that our bench was really deep, and we have a lot of talented people on the roster. I thought no matter what it felt like we kept the flow of the game. Well done to the freshman that scored.”

UMass has continued to have solid penalty corner execution throughout the season. One of the Minutewomen’s three goals came on a penalty corner. The goal was hardly hit by freshman Paula Lorenzini to cement a 3-1 win for UMass.

“I think the execution was good,” Weinberg said on penalty corners. “We had some different people in spots that don’t typically execute those specific corners.”

Freshmen were the ones to show up on the scoresheet, but all classes were contributing to the win. Dempsey Campbell looked hungry for a goal throughout the game. The sophomore stick handled the ball with a Tiger defender on her back, and back handed it to the net, but the Tiger goalkeeper just got a piece of it. Later, Campbell shot the ball up high, but Wimmer stopped it. The play did lead to a corner to continue to pressure Columbia.

Steph Gottwals has been a factor in each game as well; the senior did not show up on the scoresheet, but she continued to battle throughout the game. Gottwals on penalty corners set up many of the shots for her teammates. In the second half of the game, she also had a shot at a goal by diving for the ball.

The Minutewomen are set to go on the road for three games, starting with La Salle on Friday, Sept. 30. The game is set to start at 3 p.m.

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire.