Junior Kaitlyn Curtis had a career-best nine saves against #5 UMass Lowell on Friday. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Second-seeded River Hawks net two unanswered second half goals
UMass Lowell (16-3, 9-1 NE-10), the reigning NE-10 Tournament champions, advance to Sunday's championship where it will defend its title against top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Merrimack (17-1, 10-0 NE-10) here at noon. The Warriors advanced to its first NE-10 Tournament final with a 5-2 victory over fifth-seeded and No. 9-ranked American International College in today's second game. Stonehill, making its fourth-straight trip to the NE-10 semifinals and 14th tournament appearance overall, finishes 10-10 overall, including a 4-6 clip in the NE-10.
Senior Caitlin O'Keeffe scored her third goal of the year early in the second half. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
UMass Lowell got goals from three different players as senior Kayla Littig (Carver, Mass./Carver), junior Sarah Wilcox (Old Town, Maine/Old Town) and freshman Bianca Jones (Watertown, Mass./Watertown) all found the back of the cage. Sophomore goaltender Melanie Hopkins (Harwich, Mass./Harwich) did the rest with six saves to preserve the win.
UMass Lowell finished with a 22-16 advantage for shots in the contest, including a 13-8 edge in the second half, and posted 11 penalty corners to ten for Stonehill. Junior Kaitlyn Curtis (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) made a career-high nine saves in goal for the Skyhawks. Senior Caitlin O'Keeffe (Morristown, N.J./Morristown) netted the lone Stonehill goal.
UMass Lowell struck first with the game's opening marker with just 6:16 to play before halftime as Littig tipped in a pass from sophomore Melissa Effertz (Oceanside, Calif./Rancho Buena Vista). The goal came moments after Hopkins saved a penalty stroke by Stonehill sophomore Devin Ingersoll (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry) which would have drawn first blood for the Skyhawks during a back and forth first half in which both teams held lengthy periods of sustained pressure.
O'Keeffe knotted the score 4:05 into the second half with her third goal of the season as she carried the ball down the right side and fired a shot over Hopkins. The momentum was short lived, however, with UMass Lowell answering less than an minute and a half later with Wilcox's third goal of the season off a corner pass from sophomore Ali Ferraro (Kingston, N.Y./Kingston) at 40:33. The River Hawks added an insurance goal at 59:13 with Jones scoring her first collegiate goal to seal the victory.