For Immediate Release
November 13, 2011
Courtesy of the UMass Lowell Athletics Communications Staff
Bloomsburg, Pa. – The University of Massachusetts Lowell's bid to repeat as National Champions was carried to the wire, but the River Hawks came up short in a 2-1 loss to West Chester University on Sunday afternoon in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Golden Rams (17-4), who moved down from Division I to Division II this season, won their first NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The River Hawks finish their season at 19-4, highlighted by their sixth NCAA Finals appearance in seven years.
"These are the worst kind of loses because we had a lot of opportunities that we just didn't finish on," said head coach Shannon Hlebichuk. "And I think that was the difference in the game."
"There was the expectation that it would be a slight rebuilding year, but clearly as the season went on, we just kept getting better and I'm proud of this team for what they've accomplished," added Hlebichuk.
The Golden Rams got on the board first, scoring in the sixth minute.Nicole Fiorilla scored her team-leading 13th goal, converting on a cross from Kayla Gluchowski.
West Chester expanded the lead to two goals in the 15th minute on a penalty corner. Brynn Adams launched a shot through the defense and beat goalkeeper Melanie Hopkins stick-side.
UMass Lowell nearly got on the board with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Melissa Effertz slipped behind the defense on a long pass and raced the goalkeeper to the loose ball, but their sticks collided to break up the play.
The River Hawks breathed new life into the match late in the second half, scoring on a penalty corner in the 56th minute. Rachel McCarthy delivered the ball to Sarah Wilcox on the perimeter and she dished to Ali Ferraro in the middle for a blast into the net, slashing the score to 2-1.
UMass Lowell nearly knotted the game up with just over five minutes remaining. West Chester turned away a penalty corner, making saves on shots by McCarthy and Effertz.
The Golden Rams milked the clock down in the closing moments with a pair of penalty corners, preventing the River Hawks from mounting an offensive stand.
UMass Lowell's Hopkins finished with 10 saves, tying her season-high, as she finishes the year at 19-4. West Chester's Kristin Arnold stopped 12-of-13 shots to earn the victory. Wilcox played a large role on defense as well, making a pair of defensive saves.
The River Hawks were out-cornered on the day, 10-15, and outshot, 17-20.