UML
Haztikonstantis

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Fourth-seeded UMass-Lowell hit all five penalty shots and freshman goalkeeper Jane Haztikonstantis stopped one following a 0-0 double-overtime deadlock with fifth-seed Dowling on Friday in the NCAA Championship East Region first round.

While the match goes into the record books as a tie, by virtue of winning the shootout UMass-Lowell advances to face top seed Bridgeport (16-0-1), which is also ranked No. 3 in the latest NSCAA Division II poll, on Sunday at 12:00 at UB’s Knights Field.

Dowling ends its stellar season at 13-5-3.

“Jane thrives on penalty kicks,” River Hawks head coach Elie Monteiro said. “She has done that all year in practice, so we were confident she was going to stop at least one. We put kids in different situations in practice and we try to replicate the pressure in games like this.

The River Hawks took a 3-2 lead in the shootout behind attempts from junior Casey Schulze, junior Taylor Hartman and freshman Brittany Russo.

Hatzikonstantis dove to her left to deny an attempt by Dowling sophomore Meaghan Smith, which proved to be the winning margin in the victory.

Senior Maddy Bissaillon converted UMass-Lowell’s fourth PK and freshman Courtney Stafano clinched it with the fifth.

UMass-Lowell enjoyed the run of play throughout, evidenced by a 14-9 edge on shots, including 7-6 on target. The River Hawks also had 10 corner kicks and never conceded one to the Golden Lions.

“For the most part, we looked fairly solid up and down, from to goalkeeper to the forwards,” Monteiro noted. “We made ourselves dangerous. But Dowling has such dangerous players. They don’t need much to create chances.”

UMass-Lowell was gifted a chance in overtime in the 96th minute. Bissaillon took a failed clearance at the top of the box and wound up to shoot, but instead deftly slid to Russo on the left side of the box. Russo settled, and uncorked a right-footed blast off the crossbar, which Dowling cleared.

Dowling had a pair of late chances in the second overtime which brought out the best in Hatzikonstantis. In the 110th minute, senior Megan Emanuelo penetrated into the left side of the box and tried to bend one inside far post, but Hatzikonstantis read it well and caught it while diving to her left. She thwarted a similar play minutes earlier on Golden Lions' junior Gabrielle D’Aprile to help send the match into overtime.

The River Hawks had arguably their best chance of the day in the 69th minute when Russo gained space down the left flank, crossed to junior Amy Cramer, who then sidefooted the ball over the bar from the six-yard box.

UMass-Lowell continued to attack the right flank for crosses and nearly capitalized in the 81st minute when Cramer broke free and crossed to Russo in the box, whose twisting volley went over the bar.

In the first half, UMass-Lowell pressured right away and nearly took a 1-0 lead just five minutes in when Bissaillon launched an swinging corner kick to sophomore Gia O’Connor, who headed just over the bar.

“In a game like this, set pieces mean a lot,” Monteiro said. “It’s something we need to improve upon. Hopefully with more practice and more luck, those will go in on Sunday.”

Russo nearly gave the River Hawks a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute when she launched a well-placed right footed shot from well-beyond the left corner of the box. The attempt was destined for the top right corner, but Dowling senior goalkeeper Sara Sullivan did well to glove the shot over the bar.

Dowling’s best chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute when junior Rachel Nelson took a cross from the left side at the penalty spot and tipped it high toward the goal, but Hatzikonstantis was there for the grab.

Hazikonstantis had six saves while Sullivan stopped seven shots for Dowling.