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UAlbany Field Hockey battles but can’t complete comeback to University of Virginia

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By Aaron Cheris 

Associate Sports Editor 

[email protected] 

In a matchup between two nationally ranked teams, the University at Albany field hockey team (10-2, 1-0 AE) couldn’t score a tying goal against the University of Virginia (13-2, 1-2 ACC) on Sunday Oct. 6, as the Great Danes fell 2-1 at Alumni Field.

“I was happy with the way our team played. We battled and had plenty of chances,” said head coach Phil Sykes. “But we just couldn’t get that tying goal.”

After going to Maine and defeating the conference rival Black Bears 2-1 on Saturday, Oct. 5, the Great Danes got off to a sluggish start on Sunday. Goalkeeper Maxi Primus was strong in the cage early, making multiple diving saves to keep the Cavaliers off the board.

UAlbany had great opportunities to score as well, as Paula Heuser took a long shot on goal from outside the circle, but Virginia goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone knocked it away with her pads.

The Cavaliers persistent pressure eventually paid off. In the 19th minute, Chloe Pendlebury made a pass to the middle of the circle, where Riley Tata came running in to deflect the ball over Primus’ pads and into the net to give Virginia a 1-0 lead.

The Great Danes nearly responded less than a minute later as Daphne Voormolen’s shot was stopped by Johnstone. Echo Bretz had an opportunity to bury the rebound, but her shot went wide of the goal.

As the first half was coming to an end, Virginia had one more chance to add to their lead. The Cavaliers were given a penalty corner with almost no time left on the clock. Kelsey LeBlanc injected the ball on the corner. Virginia’s shot in a scramble was stopped by Primus, but LeBlanc was in the right place to score on the rebound as time expired, giving the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead heading into the second half.

“In the 2nd half, we woke up and got ourselves going,” Sykes said.

Early in the half, UAlbany got one of their best opportunities of the game. Off of a Fiori Van Rijswijk pass on a penalty corner, Voormolen took a long shot that was stopped by Johnstone. Heuser nearly scored on the rebound, but Johnstone made a diving save to keep UAlbany off the scoreboard.

Johnstone couldn’t hold off the Great Danes much longer. Voormolen took a long shot off of a penalty corner, and Bretz made a deflection to get the ball past Johnstone and put the Great Danes on the board in the 52nd minute.

Voormolen, who was denied on a breakaway in the 57th minute, led the Great Danes in shots with six.

The Great Danes would keep the ball in the Cavaliers end for most of the second half, but were constantly denied. In the 64th minute, UAlbany had another opportunity on a penalty corner. Again, Virginia kept it out of the goal.

With less than three minutes left in the game, Virginia’s Lucy Hyams was given a yellow card, giving UAlbany and extra player for two minutes. The Great Danes called timeout shortly after to try and figure out a play that would tie the game.

Unfortunately for UAlbany, the tying goal would never come. As time expired, UAlbany assistant coach Andy Thornton threw a stick against the wall in frustration, and the Great Danes had suffered their second loss of the season.

Sunday was UAlbany’s “Stick it to Cancer” game in honor of breast cancer awareness month. All of the players wore pink socks and some wore pink headbands to support the cause.

UAlbany’s next game is Saturday, Oct. 12 against another America East foe,

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