UMass takes a narrow 2-1 conference win against VCU

The Minutewomen score on a corner and at full strength

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Kayla Wong/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Kayla Gregoire, Assistant Sports Editor

It was a rainy and cloudy day for the Massachusetts field hockey team, but that did not allow it to stop the team from achieving a 2–1 win.

Before the game, the Minutewomen (11-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10) honored Morgan Rodgers, a Duke lacrosse player that died due to mental health issues in 2019. During pregame, they wore shirts with a butterfly that said, “Morgan’s message: Taking a shot at mental health.” The shirt came directly from Morgan’s website that’s mission is to spread her story.

“I think mental health is a topic that our team is very passionate about,” Head coach Barb Weinberg said. “Going into this game [Friday], we knew we were playing for a bigger purpose than ourselves and I think that brought the energy to the game.”

The first quarter of the game started off back-and-forth with neither team staying in each other’s offensive areas for long. The first quality scoring chance came for UMass with three minutes off the clock. As Bella Ianni came towards the net, the Rams (8-6, 3-2 A-10) goalkeeper dove, leaving an open net. Ianni had too much pressure from a VCU defender to finish her shot.

Ianni had another shot at a goal in the second half of the game. The Minutewomen were  pressuring the Rams throughout the half. Steph Gottwals passed it to an alone Ianni and the striker tapped it in for a 2-1 lead.

“All of our strikers [Friday], we have been working on the timing of our leads and how do we get the ball into a higher space,” Weinberg said. “The way that our strikers [Friday] were bringing the ball into the circle, it was phenomenal.”

As the rain cleared up on Gladchuk field, the Minutewomen grabbed their first penalty corner of the game. The penalty corner started off with a pass that could not be stopped but was quickly recovered by a UMass player. Isolde Otten passed it to Paula Lorenzini who was covered by no Rams defender. Lorenzini wound up for a hard shot that was placed in the corner out of the goalkeeper’s reach for the first goal of the game.

Another penalty corner was drawn in the second quarter after Ianni by the right post tried to redirect the ball in. As she redirected it, the goalkeeper covered it up, causing multiple UMass players to pile up. The penalty corner created a hard shot ball, but nothing came of it.

The Rams got a penalty corner of their own with over six minutes left in the first half. A VCU player managed to trick Myrte Van Herwijnen to put her on her back. Then Camila Rosenbrock with an open net tied the game up, 1-1.

Van Herwijnen came up with a big save to end the third quarter. A Rams player hit the ball up high, but the goalkeeper hit it away, falling in the process.  As Van Herwijnen crawled her way, another Rams player shot it, but she made the save. This save was crucial to keep UMass in the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“That the toughest thing for a goalkeeper is that you don’t have a lot of actions in those games, but you have to be absolutely on when that time comes,” Weinberg said. “That was an absolutely game saving save for us.”

The Minutewomen capitalized off of passing and communication to make their way towards the goal. With passing, the Minutewomen made their way around the Rams, making the Rams have to shuffle to catch up.

Dempsey Campbell had multiple scoring chances throughout the game. Her first one was on a breakaway, but as she chased the ball, she fell. Later in the game, she maneuvered around multiple defenders before hitting it hard at the goalkeeper who hit it out of bounds.

VCU throughout the game was attempting long passes that were cut off by UMass. When the Rams used stick skills to try to get by the Minutewomen, UMass players would use its sticks to mess VCU up.

The Minutewomen will stay at home to take on Albany on Sunday, Oct. 16 with game time set for 2 p.m.

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