The University of Maine Black Bears (11-4) started off on the right foot this weekend, defeating the UMass Lowell River Hawks (8-9) 2-1 in the friendly confines of the UMaine Field Hockey Complex in Orono. Maine’s No. 6 offense struggled against the stingy UMass Lowell defense but managed to outshoot the River Hawks 14-8 in the game and collect the win.
The first half of action started with a bang as the Black Bears found themselves on the board 7:21 into the game after third-year midfielder Casey Crowley, who played well all day, found the ball on her stick. After showing some dazzling moves, Crowley was able to sweep a pass to third-year midfielder Libby Riedl, a British Columbia native, who buried the shot in the right side of the net for her seventh goal of the season and give Maine the early lead.
It wasn’t long before the River Hawks found an answer to Maine’s early goal. After Maine committed a foul in the circle, UMass Lowell was awarded a penalty corner. First-year midfielder Katie Lynes found third-year forward Torrie Huk, who lit off a firecracker of a shot that deflected off the pad of redshirt fourth-year goaltender Emma Cochran and into the left corner of the net at 16:27 of the first half to knot the game up at 1-1. After UMass Lowell tied the game each team struggled to find a rhythm. A lot of midfield play had the game in limbo with both teams struggling to hold possession. Only a total of eight shots by both teams were taken in the half, with Maine firing off five of those eight to end the first half.
The second half, once again, started fast for the Black Bears offense when second-year forward Brianna Ricker found herself on the counter attack. Ricker was able to thread the needle on a beautiful cross-field pass that landed on the stick of second-year forward Brittany Smith, who was one-on-one with UMass Lowell second-year goalkeeper Eva Berkhout. Smith got the better of her with a fantastic finish.
“It felt really good to put us up one and bring the energy back up because we started off quite low and we really needed that,” Smith said of her game-winning goal.
The goal came 39:41in putting Maine up 2-1. They would hold strong despite a flurry of attacks from the visiting UMass Lowell River Hawks. That flurry led to a scary moment for the Black Bears as Huk found herself one-on-one with Cochran. Cochran aggressively came off her line to make a play of the on the forward but Huk was able to chip just over and it grazed Cochran’s stick. That contact was enough to slow the ball down and as it trickled toward the goal line. Third-year defender Samantha Wagg came to the rescue, clearing the ball just off the line with a faithful swing of her stick, to keep Maine in the lead.
Maine Head Coach Josette Babineau would call a timeout to settle her Black Bears down with just under four minutes to go in the game and it worked to Maine’s benefit. The River Hawks, with under 20 seconds left, had the ball in the circle but Maine’s team defense laid their bodies on the line, blocking shots in what was a chaotic scene until the final buzzer.
“They’re a lot more skillful than in the past and we knew that last time we played them and I find it a more enjoyable game because there is more control and stuff but it’s a good team that’s had some success and are progressing well as a program,” Babineau said.
Head coach of UMass Lowell Shannon Hlebichuk would not comment on the game.
Maine has swept the season series with UMass Lowell this season winning the first meeting at UMass Lowell 3-2 in overtime. The Black Bears will head to Albany to take on the Great Danes who escaped the Black Bears in a 1-0 victory in Orono. The Black Bears will travel to Albany on Sunday, Oct. 22 to take on No. 20 University at Albany in a battle for first place in the America East Conference.
UMaine guts out a victory at Albany
For the first time since 2005 Black Bears defeated the ranked No. 20 University at Albany Great Danes (10-6) 1-0, spoiling the Danes’ Senior Day. Maine also extending their win streak to four in a row. The Black Bears avenged a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in their first meeting at the UMaine Field Hockey Complex earlier this season. With the victory Maine is now tied for first in the America East Conference with Albany.
The Great Danes kept Cochran busy throughout the game. She was more than up to the task of leading the defense for the Black Bears, earning her second shut out of the season. Cochran was a brick wall, making fantastic saves all contest and finishing with seven total on the day. Maine was constantly pressured by Albany, who totaled nine corners throughout the match. At 64:53 in the game a shot by first-year midfielder Ghislaine Beerkens forced Cochran to make an incredible pad save that helped give the Black Bears some momentum.
Soon after the save a foul deemed a penalty stroke that was given to Maine and who else but the Wagg to take the shot. All season Wagg has been known for her hard shot that takes off her stick like a rocketship, and she didn’t disappoint today. At minute 60:23 Wagg buried her penalty stroke and gave Maine the go ahead and eventual game winning goal.
The Black Bears are back in action for more America East Conference play on Friday, Oct. 27 at Vermont. They then return to the friendly confines of The UMaine Field Hockey Complex on Sunday, Oct. 29 for Senior Day against New Hampshire at 1 p.m. Albany will try to end the regular season on a high note taking by taking on New Hampshire at 3 p.m. on Oct. 27.