There were just two field hockey teams with undefeated records in America East play entering Friday afternoon’s game between the University of Maine and the University of California at Berkeley in Orono.
And now UMaine stands alone.
The Black Bears received goals from Hana Davis, Julia Ross, Poppy Lambert and Chloe Walton and generated 18 shot attempts to California’s four en route to a 4-1 win at the UMaine field hockey complex.
UMaine, ranked 25th in the country, has now won seven in a row and improved to 8-5 overall and 4-0 in the conference. California is 6-4 and 2-1, respectively.
“It was a pretty solid performance from beginning to end,” UMaine coach Josette Babineau said. “Our midfielders did a really good job.”
She said Davis, Abby Webber and Madisyn Hartley teamed up with Walton, who was moved back into the midfield from a forward spot, and Cassandra Mascarenhas to read and understand California’s attacking scheme and get themselves in the passing lanes and swarm the ball.
Davis opened the scoring with 11:43 left in the first half when she fired a Walton rebound past Cato Knipping into the short side corner for her fifth goal of the season.
“I thought we dominated the game and that goal gave us energy to keep going especially after that first set of corners,” said Davis, referring to an earlier series of five straight penalty corners that the Black Bears failed to convert on.
“We gave up on our game plan a little bit. We got a little nervous after giving up the first goal. And it wasn’t our best defensive game,” said California coach Shellie Onstead, whose team is in the second of three cross-country trips this season for America East games. The Golden Bears will play Vermont on Sunday.
“Maine has some really dangerous forwards and they’re good inside the 25,” she added.
Ross extended the lead with 47 seconds remaining before the intermission when she used a reverse stick to snap home a loose ball for her first of the year.
“It was a rebound and there was a lot of space,” Ross said. “The goalie was out so I took a reverse shot.”
Brooke Sulinski had raced for the ball but Knipping beat her to it and stacked her pads only to have the ball spill over to Ross.
Lambert’s eighth goal and fourth in three games came off a penalty corner as Hartley settled Brittany Smith’s insertion at the top of the circle and Lambert scored with a high shot to the stick side.
“We’ve been practicing penalty corners a lot. Madisyn Hartley stopped it well and I came up and flipped it into the bottom corner,” Lambert said.
Maddie Cleat pulled one back with her second of the year when a shot deflected off her stick, went airborne and landed behind UMaine goalie Mia Borley. Jane Onners had an assist.
Walton’s brilliant individual effort iced it with 10:12 left.
She sprinted down the left wing in a two-on-one break and then rifled a reverse stick shot into the upper far corner.
“I’ve had a couple of goals like that this year,” Walton said. “I really couldn’t do it without another forward up there because that gives the goalie two options. And backhands are really hard for a goalie to read.”
Walton’s goal was her fifth.
Lambert said the team has been talking about tightening up defensively and holding California to four shot attempts and two penalty corners is a noteworthy achievement.
Borley made two saves for UMaine while Knipping and Lyndsay Swanston combined for five saves for California.
UMaine will host the University of California, Davis on Sunday at 1 p.m. UC Davis is 5-6 overall, and 1-3 in America East after absorbing a 4-0 loss at Vermont on Friday.