Georgia Cowderoy (3) battles for control of the ball with Miami (OH) forward and top scorer Paula Portugal (5). Kendall Hunter (4) follows the play. Portugal scored the winning goal as Miami (Ohio) won in double overtime 4-3. (Photo courtesy George DeLuca/Connector)
by George DeLuca
The UMass Lowell field hockey team lost to Miami (Ohio) 4-3 in a double overtime thriller on Friday. After falling behind 3-0 on the strength of Redhawk forward Geagy Prichard’s hat trick, the River Hawks mounted a furious comeback to tie the game at the end of regulation play.
Miami dominated play in the first half and led 1-0 at intermission, but the momentum shifted after Prichard scored back to back goals within two minutes of each other early in the second stanza.
River Hawk Coach Shannon Hlebichuk decided to call a time out to rally her team, “I called the time out to refocus our team’s energy and attitude. We turned it on from there and clawed our way to the end.”
The River Hawks scored three goals in the final ten minutes of regulation. First freshman forward Anouk Lalande put a rebound off Redhawk goalie Alysa Xavier into the net. Then, forward Christa Doiron collected a loose ball on a penalty corner play and finished off her own rebound.
Less than three minutes later at the end of regulation, forward Georgia Cowderoy fired a shot from 7 yards out, tying the score at 3-3. Midfielder Katie Luchino scored an assist on the play.
“Certainly putting the ball in the cage with no time left to tie the game was nothing short of an amazing effort on the part of the entire team,” Hlebichuk said.
“We’ve talked about composure and staying composed through the whole game,” said River Hawk goalie Kelsey Federico. “But it really comes down to our Lowell pride. We’re no longer transitioning into Division 1. We’re trying to embody that and hold ourselves to that standard.”
The River Hawks raised their intensity a notch and Federico rose to the occasion in the goal by compiling a total of 16 saves, six in the second period. Federico repeatedly stymied the visitors attack while boosting the confidence of her teammates who were then able to gain the offensive momentum.
Coach Hlebichuk was pleased with the effort of her goalie. “A goalkeeper keeps you in big games and Kelsey certainly showed that today. Miami is a well coached and organized team. You rarely see 16 saves in a field hockey game and I was really proud of her effort.”
Federico added, “Making a save is a great feeling, but an even better feeling is hearing the excitement from my teammates when I make a save and hearing how pumped up they get. That fills me with excitement and fulfillment and pride for what I do and what my job is on the field. My teammates inspire me.”
River Hawk forward Georgia Cowderoy scored her second goal of the season when it counted most, at the end of regulation with no time showing on the clock. Cowderoy showed leadership on the field throughout the game by calling out plays and directing traffic.
“Georgia’s been starting since she was a freshman, and now a senior, is certainly taking her game to a new level this year. She’s an experienced player and she’s leading by example all over the field. We needed that from her today, and she stepped up to the challenge. Her play is going to make a difference as the season goes on,” said Hlebichuk.
For most of the game, the River Hawks were able to stop Miami star forward Paula Portugal offensively (seven shots on goal) until she scored the winning goal with 9:09 remaining in the second overtime. Midfielder Mariona Heras scored an assist on the play with a nifty behind the back pass which Portugal put in the goal. Portugal leads the Redhawks in scoring with 6 goals.
Hlebichuk praised the sophomore, “Portugal’s the reigning Mid-American Conference ‘Freshman of the Year’ and has a lot of field hockey experience. We knew that if anyone was going to put the ball in the net for our opponent it would be her. But I’m pleased with our effort and ability to compete and stay in the game until the end.”
Friday afternoon’s tilt at Wicked Blue Field was the first meeting between the River Hawks (1-1) and the Redhawks (2-2).
The River Hawks face the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Sunday at 1pm.