The University of Maine field hockey team started the season ranked 22nd, but after a 1-4 start, the Black Bears fell three spots to 25th. Friday afternoon’s 2-1 victory against Rutgers University got the Black Bears back on track, giving them some momentum going forward.
“I think that we were really able to connect on our passes and connect as a team overall,” UMaine sophomore back Annabelle Hamilton said. “We need to just keep doing what we did today and we will be successful.”
The game started with both teams going back and forth, each registering a shot on goal. First, Rutgers goalkeeper Sarah Stuby made a nice kick save while senior goalkeeper Alicia Frisch made an equally solid save for UMaine.
Rutgers continued to play a physical game in the first half. After getting a penalty corner opportunity, Cornelia Duffin tipped in a goal for Rutgers. UMaine didn’t get down on themselves and got a penalty corner opportunity of their own. However, Stuby made a diving save for Rutgers, keeping them up by one goal.
Rutgers had three other penalty corners in the first half but couldn’t capitalize on any of them, finishing the half with only two shots on goal. UMaine, on the other hand, couldn’t get any offense going and was forced to play in their own zone for much of the half, resulting in just one shot on goal.
The Scarlett Knights came out after the break in the offensive zone and had what looked like another goal but Frisch turned it away. The second half was a different story for the Black Bears. They had chance after chance this time but still couldn’t figure out a way to put it away early.
After getting a penalty corner, UMaine senior Zoe Adkins tipped in a rebound to tie the game up at one apiece.
“This win against Rutgers is a step in the right direction and we hope to prove to ourselves that we can continue the consistency in our game,” Adkins said.
The next few minutes were competitive with both teams getting shot opportunities but no results. UMaine kept on the attack and had all the momentum before Rutgers head coach Meredith Long took a timeout to talk things over.
When play resumed, Frisch made her third save of the day on what would have been a sure goal. She came up big for the Black Bears all game long. The Scarlett Knights then fired wide soon afterward, resulting in a timeout called by UMaine’s head coach Josette Babineau.
The Black Bears got another penalty corner opportunity with 9 minutes remaining in the game, but Stuby made yet another kick save for Rutgers. Both goalies played well and saw about the same number of shots. Soon after the last penalty corner, UMaine got another opportunity for a shot but still couldn’t get it by Stuby.
The Scarlett Knights had four penalty opportunities in the first half while UMaine had just two. However, in the second half the Black Bears had four of them and Rutgers had none due to UMaine’s relentless attack.
UMaine’s fourth and final penalty corner of the second half proved to be too much for the Scarlett Knights. The Black Bears fired a shot on goal and, while Stuby made another save, a Rutgers defender stopped the rebound shot with her body, resulting in a penalty shot for UMaine.
Hamilton buried the game-winning shot in the top-left corner to put UMaine up 2-1 with 58 seconds left.
“It was a great feeling having the game winning goal and [I] couldn’t have done it without my team,” Hamilton said. “I was confident in myself and did what I needed to do to get the win for us.”
UMaine finished with nine shots while Rutgers had eight. The Black Bears also had six penalty corners to the Scarlett Knights four.
“Although we’ve had a slow start to the season this win was very important, especially looking forward to our next match-up against Bryant,” Hamilton said.
With the win, the Black Bears improve to 2-4 on the season while Rutgers falls to 2-3.