UML Impresses at Home in Defeat
LOWELL -- The UMass Lowell women’s lacrosse team has experienced its share of growing pains in recent seasons.
Albany 16, UML 10
But the River Hawks now have the look of a program close to shedding its expansion team tag.
UMass Lowell served notice that it can hang with the best teams in America East by giving the University of Albany, a perennial power, all it could handle in the conference opener for both schools.
The River Hawks overcame an early four-goal deficit while rallying to take a one-goal lead with 12:33 left. Unfortunately, UMass Lowell’s offense went cold down the stretch and Albany avoided the upset.
Albany scored the final seven goals, all of which came in the final 10:29 of play, while topping the River Hawks, 16-10, at Wicked Blue Field on Saturday afternoon. The game was much closer than the final score indicates as the Great Danes scored three goals in the final 1:53.
Cameron McKelvin paced UMass Lowell’s balanced attack with three goals. McKelvin’s third goal of the second half gave the River Hawks a 10-9 lead. In four prior losses against Albany, UMass Lowell had only scored a combined 13 goals.
“I was really excited with our level of play,” said UMass Lowell coach Carissa Medeiros. “We played 55 minutes. We need to play 60 to beat a good team like that. But we played 55 and that’s the most I’ve ever seen us play together against a fantastic Albany team. So I’m so very proud of them.”
Hailey Carroll paced Albany’s offense with six goals.
Kristina Keith, Paige MacEachern and Samantha Blair netted two goals each for the River Hawks. Senior Kendyl Finelli chipped in with a goal and assist while moving into first place on UMass Lowell’s all-time scoring list with 111 points (39 goals).
“We just went out with everything we had,” said Finelli. “Obviously, it’s been a little rocky at the beginning of this season. But as a team we work so well together. We connect and get through it. That’s what we bring to the field.
“We gave everything in us and we felt we could win. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up that way. But we brought everything to the table that we had. We executed. We tried hard. We believed in each other.”
UMass Lowell is 3-7 overall, while Albany is 5-4. The Great Danes led 6-5 at halftime.
“We have had a few ups and downs this season,” said Medeiros. “We’re trying to find out who we are. We came into this game saying whatever we’ve done up to this point, good, bad or indifferent, it doesn’t matter because this is the part of the season that matters.
“We wanted to come out on our home field and have some pride and make a statement in the conference that we’re going to be competitive this year.”
After falling behind 5-1 with 10:04 to play in the first half, UMass Lowell outscored Albany by a 9-4 margin to take a one-goal lead. The River Hawks, who have only won two AE games in the past four seasons, have made great strides as a program, but are still learning how to close out games against top opponents.
“Part of building a program is you never run out of firsts,” said Medeiros. “Now it’s our fifth season and we’re still running into firsts. It’s the first time we’ve ever had the lead against a (top) program in our conference (late in the game).
“Of course, we’re going to tighten up a little bit and make some mistakes here or there. I think those mistakes probably cost us the win. But it’s the first time we’ve been there. We’ll be ready next time and we’ll finish it out.”
Finelli scored UML’s fifth goal and moved into first place on the all-time scoring list with an assist in the second half.
“I’ve never really been in this position before, but it feels so great,” said Finelli. “I know that all my teammates brought me to this point with their help and support.”
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi