No. 20 UMass blanks Lock Haven 4-0 on senior day

Minutewomen dominate on Friday

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Kayla Wong / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Maroon and white balloons blew in the wind at Gladchuk Field Hockey Complex, as parents dressed in “UMass mom” shirts and “UMass dad” hats howled when the announcer read the score 2-0 in favor of the Massachusetts field hockey team.

It was only the second quarter then, but the energy was high from the start. UMass fans showed up to support on senior day, as the No. 20 Minutewomen (13-4, 6-1 Atlantic 10) dominated two halves to win 4-0 over Lock Haven to close out regular season conference play, snagging the No.2 spot in the playoffs.

“It was a really important A-10 game, we had to win this for seeding,” junior midfielder Claire Danahy said. “We came out strong, they put a lot of pressure on us towards the end, but we held strong and really came through with it.”

A large focus for the Minutewomen this year has been the first five minutes. To establish the tone for the rest of the game, asserting immediate dominance over UMass’ opponent.

Danahy closed a strong first half for UMass, forcing the score 2-0 with a crisp high shot off a corner play. Just seven minutes into the game, freshman Mali Herberhold set her upperclassmen up with a perfect chance and the veteran capitalized. The shot came just a minute following senior Bella Ianni’s goal to start things off on the right foot for the Minutewomen.

The Bald Eagles (12-5, 5-2 A-10)  barely pressured UMass defenders for the majority of the first half. Emilie Keij and Paula Lorenzini had maximum time to pass the ball back and forth before any Lock Haven forward applied pressure. Just over six minutes to play in the second quarter, Keij and Lorenzini valued clock time by passing back and forth horizontally three times, with nobody to contest, chipping away at the clock with a lead and complete ball control.

Even when the Bald Eagles adjusted, with players like Alyssa Endrick challenging Lorenzini eventually, the Minutewomen skillfully mastered a one touch pass, to transition the ball up the sideline and avoid forwards sprinting out to challenge the ball.

Isolde Otten had her fair share of flashy passes that got the crowd cheering, one of which was a quick touch pass up the sideline to the midfield. Just two plays later, she dribbled through traffic to find Mia Smith on the run, who fed a sprinting Dempsey Campbell whose breakaway resulted in a UMass corner.

Ianni, also recognizing the speed of her midfielders to get the ball up the field, dribbled hard into the circle, colliding with a defender and after a no call, took a shot. When it was deflected, she got her own rebound, drawing more contact as the ref whistled and signaled a corner.

Kelsey Felix had four saves for Lock Haven on the day, one of which initially came in the third quarter before Jess Beech found the loose ball after Felix’s save to push the score 3-0 for UMass. Herberhold finished things off on a breakaway all by herself, to put the nails in the coffin with just under three to play in the final quarter.

Minutewomen Myrte van Herwijnen had six saves  in the shutout, including a highlight reel double save where on a 1 on 1 opportunity, van Herwijnen stopped the first shot. Once a Bald Eagle found the ball, van Herwijnen stretched to then save the wide-open shot attempt with 13 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The two teams split the corner penalty stat at 5-5 each, despite Lock Haven failing to draw a corner until late in the second quarter. UMass won the day with eight shots on goal to its six, and had two more saves than Lock Haven with six.

The Minutewomen have one final regular season game to go but against out of conference fellow New Englander Northeastern. Lock Haven was a must win game for seeding and now the Bald Eagles will fly back to Amherst to face the Minutewomen in the playoffs in November. The rematch is set for Thursday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m.

“I think it’s really good, it makes a statement … it’s really good to step into [playoffs] with a good win on them,” Danahy said.

Game time is set for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30 in Boston.

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