FIELD HOCKEY: UMass Tops BC
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
In its home opener this past Sunday, the No. 17 Boston College field hockey team (3-1) lost its first match of the season to the University of Massachusetts (3-1) in a highly contested overtime thriller at the Newton Sports Complex. Sophomore transfer Katlyn Soucy scored the first goal of her BC career to give the Eagles a late 1-0 lead, but it wasn’t enough for BC to capture its fourth straight win, as they ultimately fell, 2-1.
A mere 20 seconds after taking the field for a seven-on-seven overtime, the game was over. UMass promptly scored after gaining possession in the opening faceoff.
“The important thing in overtime is that you need to protect the spine of the field, right down the middle,” said BC head coach Ainslee Lamb. “They just came right down the middle. It’s not acceptable. You’ve got to make them do a little bit more before they have the ability to go six inches from your goalkeeper.”
This was BC’s first overtime game of the year, compared with UMass’s third, which may have had an impact considering the gravity of the period.
“Overtime is so emotional,” Lamb said. “Those first two seconds are hard. They’ve got to really take a deep breath, and they didn’t have the chance.”
The second half of the match featured more offense—a total of 12 shots and two goals. For the first 20 minutes of the period, BC sustained control of the match, often maintaining possession in UMass territory.
Junior Paige Norris, who led the team with nine assists last year, helped the Eagles get into solid position a number of times with her passing and stick handling. In the 52nd minute, Nina Baumberger Altirriba, a sophomore from Spain, hit a great cross into the middle that set up a corner for BC.
BC fullback Sarah Hospodar inserted the ball, and at first Jacqui Moorfield missed a shot to the right of the goalie. But Soucy got the rebound and put it in for the first score of the game, and her first goal since she transferred from Louisville after last season.
“We’re really thrilled to have her,” Lamb said. “I firmly believe she’s in the right place, and that’s to be a Boston College Eagle. Scoring that goal was critical, but more importantly, she’s such a great contributor on and off the field.”
Unfortunately for the Eagles, momentum soon shifted in UMass’s direction after the goal. For the final 15 minutes—especially the last five—the ball was mostly in BC territory. With 10:30 left, UMass had two looks at a goal and promptly was granted a corner. But Eagles defender Virgynia Muma rushed flawlessly and didn’t let the Minutemen get off a shot.
“We did a pretty good job [with them being in our territory] defensively. We sustained a lot of their attack free hits,” Lamb said. “We’ve worked really hard on that.”
BC’s good fortune would end there, though, as UMass scored from a rebound off goalie Leah Settipane with eight minutes left. The Eagles almost didn’t even make it to overtime after allowing UMass deep into their territory for the last two minutes of the game, but hung on to force the extra time.
Both defenses prevailed throughout the first half, as each team was held scoreless. Only seven total shots—five by the Eagles—were taken in the opening 35 minutes. Hospodar contributed a number of fine defensive plays, including clear outs near the goal and secure passes over the middle. Kara Mackintire, a senior captain, helped anchor the defense, and had a great shot block early on.
UMass did have one wide-open look with six minutes remaining in the first half, but its forward struck the ball wide right of the goal. It was the closest any player on either team would come to scoring, as the defenses were locked in.
“It was a very physical game,” Lamb said. “I thought our kids really persevered through that quite well.”
Although the outcome was surely not what the Eagles wanted, Lamb saw a number of positives, and is quite comfortable with how the team is playing heading into their fifth game of the season. She noted that sophomore Emma Plasteras—part of an emerging midfield—had one of the best games of her career.
“We have a really dangerous midfield, who are pretty unstoppable,” Lamb said. “It just takes a little bit of time to develop that, but certainly they’re on track to be where we want them to be at the end of the season.”
BC next plays undefeated BU at home this Friday, a matchup not to be missed. The Eagles are eager to atone for their first loss of the season, especially if it comes at the hands of their storied rivals from down Commonwealth Ave.