by: Timothy Rocha
In a clash between two nationally ranked field hockey teams, the University at Albany took down the University of Maine 3-1 on Friday at home. The No. 10 Great Danes handed the 18th ranked Black Bears their first loss since mid-September, and ended Maine’s eight game win streak. Riding a strong two-goal performance from third-year midfielder Paula Heuser, Albany now rises to 14-2 on the year, with a 5-1 record within the America East Conference. Maine’s road loss brings them to 15-3 overall, with a 5-1 America East conference record.
The game was crucial in deciding who would stand atop the America East Conference, as Maine had the chance to pull ahead of Albany. With Maine’s loss, the two teams are now tied for first.
In their previous matchup earlier in the year, Maine had the upper hand as they won the game 6-2. However, Maine looked out of form in the second matchup as they struggled to keep up with Albany’s pressure.
The Great Danes came into the matchup looking for revenge. They got onto the scoreboard first when Heuser beat three defenders and sent an assist to second-year midfielder Anna Bottino in the circle. Bottino then shot the ball passed second-year goalkeeper Emily Corbett, giving the Great Danes a 1-0 lead.
On the other side of the field, the Black Bears seemed out of character during the first half. While only trailing by one point, the Black Bears failed to get any shots on the goal, or even force a single penalty corner. The half ended with a 1-0 advantage to Albany.
At the start of the second half, Maine decided to go with second-year goalkeeper Emma Cochran over Corbett, but the switch did not pay off, as Cochran struggled to protect the net.
Albany raised their lead to 2-0 with an unassisted score from Heuser midway through the second half. On the play, Heuser snuck the ball past Cochran, as the Great Danes connected on their second shot on goal.
Just when it seemed Albany would walk away with the win, Maine got its first glimpse of hope. Senior-forward Cassidy Svetek scrambled through the circle, and with an assist from fellow senior-forward Katie Bingle, Svetek managed to get Maine’s first goal of the game, shrinking the deficit to 2-1.
Albany, however, put the game away five minutes later with another goal from Heuser. Heuser’s team-leading 18th score of the year came on a penalty corner attempt, which beat Maine’s defenders and clinched the 3-1 win for Albany.
A three-time America East Player of the Week this season, Heuser’s strong performance stood out as the primary reason Albany won, along with poor pressure from Maine. Another reason Maine lost was that they allowed three goals, tied for most all season. Despite having had recent success, Maine’s goalkeeper duo of Cochran and Corbett struggled during their playtime. Neither player managed to make a save, allowing every shot on goal to hit the net.
Moving forward, Maine looks to dust of the loss when they host their conference rival, the University of Vermont on Oct. 30.