Maine Field Hockey Opens Conference Play Against UMass-Lowell
Maine opens up conference play for America East as the Black Bears host the new team on the block, UMass-Lowell. The River Hawks travel to Orono, Mass., for the first time as a NCAA Division I field hockey program. The lone match of the weekend will be played at 1p.m. at the UMaine Field Hockey Complex.
SCOUTING THE RIVER HAWKS
America East's newest team, the UMass-Lowell River Hawks have had a rough go of it in their first year as a Division I field hockey program. UMass-Lowell enters the weekend with a 1-6 record, but are coming off their first victory of the season, downing Saint Francis (Pa.), defeating the Red Flash, 3-1 last weekend.
Melissa Effertz paces the River Hawks in scoring with six points (three goals), meanwhile Georgia Cowderoy is second with five (two goals, one assist).
Melanie Hopkins has played all seven matches for UMass-Lowell in the cage and has allowed 26 goals and made 55 saves. She maintains 3.71 goals against average and .679 save percentage.
Redshirt freshman Natasha Ford has seemingly hit her stride as starting goalkeeper of the Maine field hockey team. Ford has helped give the Black Bears win four of its last five contests with its only loss coming against No. 4 Virginia. Ford is third in the conference in goals against average with 2.00 and fourth in save percentage with a mark of .692. However the most impressive feat so far for Ford has been her current scoreless streak of 140 minutes. Dating back to Sept. 15, Natasha Ford and her defense hasn't allowed a goal. The Black Bears posted back-to-back shutouts recording a win over Brown, 6-0 and the latest a 2-0 victory over Central Michigan.
While the Black Bears have played a number of ranked opponents and played those foes close, they have had their way with unranked opponents in 2013. The Black Bears have outscored their unranked opposition, 18-4 (four contests). They defeated both Hofstra and Quinnipiac, 5-2 while they rolled Brown, 6-0 and most recently downed Central Michigan, 2-0. The Black Bears have only been held scoreless once this season, and are averaging 3.12 goals per contest.
SPREADING THE LOVE
The Black Bears have been buoyed offensively by the team's tremendous offensive depth. While Annabelle Hamilton currently leads the team in points with 13 (five goals, three assists), Maine has three players with double-digit point totals while a total of 10 Black Bears have recorded at least one point in this latest campaign. Nicole Sevey, Marissa Shaw and Holly Stewart are all second behind Hamilton with 11 points each. Cassidy Svetek is next closest with nine points while Sydney Veljacic, (one goal, three assists) has five points.
Sophomore Marissa Shaw has had a fast start to her second-year at Maine. She is tied for second on the team in points and has recorded points in six of eight matches for the Black Bears. Shaw has turned into one of the Black Bears' many scoring threats after a year where she played in 18 games but didn't find the score sheet. She currently has five goals this season.
The University of Maine field hockey team ranks highly in the offensive category when compared to its America East peers. Maine currently ranks in the top-three in every offensive category. Highlighting where the Black Bears feature is scoring average (second-place 2.86 gpg), shots (second-place 126/18.00 spg), and goals scored (third place, 20 goals/2.86 gpg). The Black Bears also sit second in the assist category with 15.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Black Bears enter conference play this weekend and face possibly the toughest conference foe this season in No. 11 Albany. The Great Danes travel to play the Black Bears on Oct. 5.