Nationally ranked Field Hockey shuts out UMass Lowell
By Brendan Reilly
The weather was ugly at Alumni Field, but the gameplay was beautiful for the home team. The University at Albany field hockey team dominated UMass Lowell on Saturday afternoon to a tune of 5-0, earning their eighth shutout of the year, and third in a row.
The Great Danes dominated at the point of attack. Even though there was a light mist that made the field slick, the offense was incredibly efficient. They kept the ball on UMass Lowell’s side for a large majority of the game by passing the ball all over the field. The Great Danes’ accurate passing helped them out-shoot UMass Lowell by a 24-1 differential.
It was also a tale of two goalkeepers. And the two tales were two totally different stories.
UMass Lowell’s Kelsey Federico held her own in net, but she could only do so much against the constant bombardment of the UAlbany offense. Federico made 12 saves, but allowed five goals. Federico was one of the River Hawks’ best players on the field, even though one wouldn’t assume that by looking at the box score. She made several big saves to keep the game as close as she could, but the UAlbany offense put pressure on the UMass Lowell defense too consistently.
Maxi Primus, on the other hand, probably didn’t even need to dress for the game. The Great Danes’ goalkeeper faced just one shot in 70 minutes, and didn’t record a save. Primus had an easy day because the offense maintained consistent control of the ball, and the defense stonewalled every UMass Lowell’s possession before it could get started.
The Great Danes drew first blood 6:37 into the game when German freshman forward Pahlia Arnold started things off with an unassisted goal on a rebound on the penalty corner. It was Arnold’s second goal of the year.
Sophomore midfielder Paula Heuser gave the Great Danes a 2-0 lead at the 22:36 mark in the first half. Heuser, also from Germany, executed a give-and-go with Arnold and junior midfielder Laura Page, and then scored on the penalty corner.
Senior forward Echo Bretz scored the third goal early on in the second half. After junior forward Emily White took the ball down the middle of the field, Bretz knocked in a rebound from the left side. The goal put the game out of reach, which allowed the Great Danes to relax and play with a comfortable lead. “Every goal is a difference maker. The more goals you get in a game the more momentum we have, and the more you just want to keep doing it, over and over again,” Bretz said.
Bretz played a crucial role in the dominant offensive performance. The Great Danes entered the match confident that they would play an all-around solid game. “We came out hard. It took us a little bit to warm up, but I thought we played just how we expected to play, and how we expect to play every game,” Bretz said.
UAlbany added two more goals to their lead after Bretz’ goal to start the second half. Heuser scored her second goal only a minute after Bretz, and freshman midfielder Anna Bottino added one soon after. Heuser’s goal was her 14th of the year.
The Great Danes entered the day ranked 10th in the nation, but they may just be ranked higher than that by the end of the weekend. Echo Bretz knows that to be recognized for their success, they have to put their nose to the grindstone. “We just have to keep winning and keep working hard, and proving people that we can be a top 10 team. We deserve to be up there.”
On Sunday, the Great Danes beat Lafayette 5-1 at Alumni Field to extend their winning streak. Emily White tied the game and Molly Mariano scored the winning goal before UAlbany added insurance goals in the second half.
After Sunday’s game, the Great Danes continue America East conference play on Friday, Oct 10, at New Hampshire.