ORONO — The University of Maine field hockey team found itself in a strange situation on Monday.
For just the second time this season and the first time since Aug. 27, the Black Bears were looking to rebound from a loss as the Bears suffered a 2-1 setback to Boston University on Sunday.
After a sluggish first half against the hard-working Holy Cross Crusaders, the Bears erupted for four second-half goals to collect a 5-1 victory.
“I liked our passing in the second half and our movement off the ball was better,” said Maine coach Josette Babineau, whose 12-2 Black Bears were ranked 10th in the country last week.
Maine spotted Holy Cross a 1-0 lead when Jamie Caniglia lifted a penalty stroke over Sydney Kolysher 12:50 into the game for her second goal of the year, and the Crusaders held the lead until Alexa Binnendijk equalized with 3:38 left in the half.
Binnendijk scored the game-winner 9:41 into the second half and that triggered a decisive flurry of three goals in a span of 3:47 with Zoe Adkins and Holly Stewart adding the next two goals.
Freshman Stewart added another goal with 8:05 left.
Maine’s first three goals came off penalty corners.
“We stepped it up in the second half,” said Maine senior forward Kelly Newton, who assisted on Binnendijk’s goals. “We pulled ourselves together and got the win.”
“Maine is a very good team,” said Holy Cross coach Zowie Tucker. “They executed on both sides of the ball. They controlled the game very well, they spread the field very well and, fundamentally, they know exactly where each player is going to be.”
The Crusaders, 1-12 and losers of nine straight, frustrated the Bears in the first half as Kellie Walsh and Jillian Caffrey anchored a strong defensive effort and goalkeeper Kelly Sotsky came up with four saves.
Maine finally broke through when Adkins’ penalty corner was settled by Newton, who slid it over to Binnendijlk stationed to her left.
“Our first hitter faked a shot and Kelly gave it to me. Their runner (defender) was on the wrong foot (because she confronted the hitter who faked the shot),” explained Binnendijk. “I got a free shot on goal and I put it near side.”
The game-winner came on a similar play.
“It was the same thing, but I put that one far side,” said Binnendijk.
Newton downplayed her role on the goals.
“That was all Alexa,” said Newton. “She has that straight, flat shot from the left side. We count on her for a lot of goals.”
They were the Dutch player’s 10th and 11th goals of the season.
Adkins extended the lead with her fourth of the year when she pushed the ball over the goal line after Sotsky made a nice save after Jocelyn Mitchell deflected a Stephanie Gardiner shot.
“They were pretty tough,” said Sotsky. “They’re a strong corner team. They had a lot of good tips and straight shots. It’s hard.”
Stewart made it 4-1 by jamming home her own rebound and her second of the game and eighth of the year came on a nice feed from Annabelle Hamilton as she broke in down the right wing and ripped a low blast inside the far post.
Kolysher and Alicia Frisch combined for two saves on three shots, while Sotsky wound up with 12 saves on 22 shots.