After their Senior/Alumni Day matchup against Lehigh, the River Hawks will end their season with four straight America East games. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
The UMass Lowell field hockey team fell to a 6-7 record with a 4-0 loss against No. 17 UAlbany on Friday afternoon. It snapped a three-game win streak for the River Hawks, and they are now 2-2 in America East play.
Despite the score, the River Hawks gave excellent hustle against their America East opponent, and their effort was on full display throughout the seventy minutes. Sophomore forward/midfielder Torrie Huk, still on the lookout for her tenth goal of the season, had two shots on net. Freshman midfielder Morgan Irons also had two shots.
The River Hawks finished the game with 8 shots overall, 5 of them coming in the first half.
A River Hawks goal was called off in the second half, when the score stood at 3-0 UAlbany. The play resulted in a green card for UAlbany goaltender Maxi Primus. Had the goal been allowed, perhaps it would have helped give the River Hawks some leverage in the game.
UMass Lowell’s best scoring chance came within the last fifteen seconds of regulation, but the lack of a follow-up on the shot prevented a goal for the River Hawks.
Freshman goalkeeper Eva Berkhout was the night’s standout. In her third straight start in net for the River Hawks, Berkhout had an 11 save night, a personal best.
Head Coach Shannon Hlebichuk was very satisfied with her performance. “I think there’s just a lot of calmness and composure about [Berkhout] back there. I thought she did a fantastic job in that first half. There was a lot of different shots thrown at her, from different angles,” said Coach Hlebichuk.
Berkhout saw 9 shots in the first half, and had to weather 7 penalty corners from UAlbany. She made an especially clutch save early in the first half, when a UAlbany player got a breakaway and passed it up to a teammate who charged towards the River Hawk goal.
The River Hawks had some problems with scoring opportunities, but most of that was to do with UAlbany closing and sealing their defensive door, and stripping the ball from them. UMass Lowell would gain possession of the ball and begin their streak up the field, but the Great Danes would often swipe the ball away before the play could kick into high gear.
“[The UAlbany Great Danes] showed why they are Top 20 in the country. Great skill, great possession of the ball, and obviously they can finish,” said Coach Hlebichuk.
However, the River Hawks did well on defense against UAlbany. They jostled the ball away from the Great Danes on numerous occasions, and did well in keeping the ball away from Berkhout. UAlbany had 19 shots in the first half, but UMass Lowell were able to cut down the Great Danes’ chances to six in the second half.
“I thought we matched up well against some of their most dangerous players, and limited their touches and what they like to do, so I was happy with our performance in those areas. But overall, we had some opportunities that we didn’t finish on, that if you want to take a team and make this a game, you have to finish those opportunities,” said Hlebichuk.
The River Hawks will hold their next game Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. The non-conference matchup against Lehigh will be a joint celebration of the seniors on the team and of field hockey alumni. After embarking on a two-game road trip, the River Hawks will return to Wicked Blue Field for their penultimate game of the season, against the University of Vermont, on Friday Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. It will be their final home game.