BIDDEFORD, Maine — Four different players scored as No. 19 University of New England rolled to a 5-0 victory over the University of Maine at Farmington in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship on Wednesday evening (Nov. 9) at the Big Blue Turf.
With the result, the Nor’easters (20-3) advance to face No. 3 Tufts University on Saturday (11 a.m.) at Ounjian Field in Medford, Massachusetts. It will be the third straight year playing in the second round of the tournament for UNE, which is now the one of two programs in the country to reach the 20-win plateau.
The Beavers conclude their season with a record of 13-5.
The initial shot of the night proved to be the deciding tally, as Marge Gardiner (east Northport, N.Y.) sent a feed from Nicole Matarozzo (Wolfeboro, N.H.) on a penalty corner into the left side of the cage with 4:27 gone. The assist moved Matarozzo into first place on UNE’s career points list at 125, surpassing the previous mark held by Taryn Flagg ’08.
Big Blue doubled the cushion in the 18th minute, when Becky Zakorchemny (Gilford, N.H.) tipped home a drive off the stick of Olivia Madore (Lyman, Maine).
UNE continued to hold the majority of play and Matarozzo picked up another helper in the 42nd minute (3-0) as Desirae LeBlanc (Manchester, N.H.) dove to redirect Matarozzo’s hit around the UMF goalie.
Bridget Cavanaugh (West Friendship, Md.) bumped the lead up two more notches — above UNE’s third-best scoring average (4.36) in the nation — with goals in the 49th and 53rd minutes. Gardiner registered the assist on the first one, which came on a penalty corner. For the second, Cavanaugh weaved her way through some 40 yards of defenders before a backhanded strike towards the far post.
Holly Smith (Peabody, Mass.) only needed to make two saves for the Nor’easters, who have posted 13 shutouts in 23 matches. With the assistance of the defense, that includes Gardiner and Cavanaugh on the back line, UNE has surrendered a mere five goals to opponents over the last 12 outings.
For UMaine Farmington, which was out-shot by a 23-4 margin, Patty Smith (Gorham, Maine) logged 12 stops.
The contest was the first between the in-state foes since 2011. Now in 10 meetings, the Nor’easters have won the last four after the Beavers took the six prior.
“It was really great to be able to have two Maine teams competing with one another in an NCAA game,” commented Danielle Collins, head coach of the Nor’easters. “UMF came ready to play and definitely challenged us to execute all night. Once we got the nerves out and scored that first goal, we were able to relax and settle into our rhythm. I’m very pleased with our performance and the team is ready to move onto Tufts in the second round.”
Saturday’s match-up with the Jumbos will be UNE’s fourth against a squad ranked in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III Top 20 Poll this season. Tufts has won each of the three all-time dates, most-recently in 2014.
UNE’s winning spread of five was the largest of the eight NCAA opening-round showdowns on Wednesday.