UMass Lowell captured their first conference win since 2013 on Friday night’s bout against the University of New Hampshire. (Courtesy UMass Lowell Athletics)
With two goals from sophomore forward/midfielder Torrie Huk, the River Hawks were able to secure their first-ever win against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. The 2-1 victory was also the team’s first America East win since 2013.
Both teams came out fierce, playing an aggressive first half. There were a number of penalty corner shots taken by both teams, but a majority of them were unable to convert to goals. A penalty corner taken by the Wildcats’ Lindsey Nerbonne was saved in the 5th minute.
Nerbonne went on to shoot again and scored the first goal for the Wildcats. She had the most shots for the Wildcats, with 4 shots on goal in the first half and 5 in the second.
The Wildcats seemed to hold most of the possession in the first half. This was due in part to some turnovers from the River Hawks and strong defensive skills from the Wildcats. However, even with a high number of shots by the University of New Hampshire, they were unable to score again.
UMass Lowell may have been slow to warm up, but Huk was able to score off a corner shot in the 12th minute, assisted by junior forward Christa Doiron and senior midfielder/back Annie Villare.
Huk would go on to score again, her 9th goal of the season, in the 19th minute with another assist from Villare. These were the only goals from the River Hawks, but it was enough to secure the win.
The second half kept the intensity high, with a lot more back and forth action. Both teams continued to have great shots on goal, but most were just wide or saved by the goalkeepers.
The River Hawks’ passing became stronger as the game progressed, with better looks to get the ball closer to the goal.
It was a relatively clean game, despite a number of fouls. UMass Lowell had two green cards handed to them in the first half. In the 24th minute, senior midfielder/forward Georgia Cowderoy received a green card and 8 minutes later, Villare received one. Villare was given another green card in the second half, but that did not slow down the River Hawks. UNH’s Jessica Schmidt received the team’s first and only green card in the second half as well. Even with many corner shot opportunities, neither team was able to use them to their advantage.
Head coach Shannon Hlebichuk was very pleased with the result. “I thought we executed our game plan exactly how we prepared all week. [The University of New Hampshire] is a great opponent, they’ve got some great players up the middle, we knew we had to keep the ball out of their hands and I think we did a good job of that,” she said.
Freshman goalkeeper Eva Berkhout received the start tonight and played the whole game. With 6 saves, Berkhout played a huge role in the River Hawks success. “I think she played her game, very composed, very controlled back there and really made some big saves for us,” Hlebichuk said.
Overall, UMass Lowell’s defense was very strong, even with hard and quick runs from the Wildcats. Towards the end of the game, UNH was looking to score an equalizer and put a lot more pressure on UMass Lowell. The River Hawks defense did not waver, instead remaining calm and forced the ball away from UNH.
Although both teams displayed a strong effort, the River Hawks were able to pull ahead thanks to critical goals from Huk and big saves from Berkhout. UMass Lowell is now 5-6 overall and 1-1 in the American East conference. With more conference games in the upcoming weeks, the River Hawks plan to work on their possessions and in particular, finishing corner opportunities in order to secure more wins.
The River Hawks will travel to Vermont for a Sunday matinee matchup before returning to Lowell for a contest against UAlbany on Friday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.