UMass shutout La Salle in 4-0 road victory

Four different players score as the Minutewomen win fifth straight

Dylan+Nguyen%2F+Daily+Collegian

Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Michael Araujo, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts field hockey team coasted to a 4-0 victory against La Salle University on the road Friday.

No. 12 UMass (9-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) scored in bunches en route to a shutout win over the Explorers (3-8, 0-3 A-10) thanks to its shutdown defense across the turf and especially on opposing penalty shots.

The Minutewomen took a booming lead in the early stages of the game. Less than two minutes in, they earned their first penalty corner of the match. Jess Beech delivered a pass to Bella Ianni who launched a rocket from the top of the shooting circle into the back of the net, scoring her first goal of the season.

With confidence levels high after dealing the first blow, UMass fired again. La Salle keeper Ryan Curley denied Beech’s penalty stroke attempt, but Dempsey Campbell intercepted a pass in Explorer territory to keep the opportunity alive.

Campbell then hit a streaking Steph Gottwals, who evaded the keeper and sunk the shot to put the Minutewomen up 2-0 less than three minutes into the contest.

“It was a wild start to the game,” UMass head coach Barb Weinberg said. “Anytime you can come out strong and get an outcome like that it will put the other team on their back foot.”

The next scoring outburst occurred in the third quarter, when Beech delivered on her second penalty stroke of the game after a failed first attempt. Following it up was Claire Danahy, who punched in a shot off an assist by Ianni before the keeper was able to get back in position.

La Salle led the Minutewomen in total penalty corners 7-5, but couldn’t capitalize on any of its opportunities despite having the bulk of the attempts.

“Our defensive penalty corner unit today was outstanding,” Weinberg said. “Different surface, different types of calls. It was more on the second phase of our penalty corner defense today and we were solid.”

One of the obstacles UMass faced coming into the game was the surface the game took place on. While the Minutewomen are used to playing on grass turf, the contest took place on field turf, which affected the pace of the game and the style of play with which UMass is normally accustomed to.

“Going to play at La Salle is never an easy game because of the surface that they play on,” Weinberg said. “We practiced on our football field all this past week and we knew this was our only game on the weekend, so we fully prepared for this game and playing on that surface to be in the best position.”

With the win, the Minutewomen extended their unbeaten streak to five games and are undefeated in conference play after three games this season.

UMass’ road trip continues as it travels to Philadelphia to take on No. 11 Saint Joseph’s on Friday at 3 p.m. for a conference showdown. The Hawks also stand at 3-0 in A-10 play.

“We’re as confident as we can be,” Weinberg said. “Knowing the type of team that Saint Joseph’s is, and they have had a really solid last three games that they have played, but this is why we play our non-conference games is to prepare for games like this.”

Michael Araujo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @araujo_michael_.