UMass-Lowell drops AIC to move on
River Hawks to face Merrimack in semifinals on Friday
LOWELL, Mass. -- No. 2 UMass-Lowell set the tone with two goals in the first two minutes to score a 6-1 victory against No. 3 American International Saturday afternoon in the NCAA tournament first round at Cushing Field.
With the victory, UMassLowell (18-3) advances to the tournament semifinal for the ninth consecutive year.
AIC ends its season with a 12-9 record.
"We came into this season expecting to do some good things and we've done some great things," said head coach Shannon Hlebichuk. "It's good to see this young group to get to the [semifinals]. We had a couple of hiccups along the way, but that's typical of a program. We learned from our wins and we learned from our losses. Combining all those things got us to the [semifinals] this year."
UMass-Lowell, which captured the 2010 NCAA Championship, had six goals from six different players, led by one goal and one assist from junior Sarah Wilcox and sophomore Ali Ferraro. Sophomore Rachel McCarthy set up three goals.
The River Hawks wasted little time as Wilcox and freshman Bianca Jones each scored goals in the first two minutes. McCarthy uncorked a corner from Jones at the top of the circle, saved by AIC goalkeeper Kim Steiner, but Wilcox was there to tuck in the rebound.
A minute later, McCarthy's attempt was deflected high in the air, but Jones tipped it home from the right of the cage.
The Yellow Jackets, however, responded in the 10th minute when junior Lisa Duckles broke down the right side and centered to junior Mackenzie Kewley, who shot under sophomore Melanie Hopkins to cut the lead in half.
"I think we sat back for a minute and they put a ball in," said Hlebichuk. "It's always a game, regardless if it's 2-0 or 3-0. That first goal puts any team back in it. We haven't been ahead 2-0 in a long time, so we had to remember what to do with a lead."
Jones and McCarthy then set up a goal by Kayla Littig in the 13th minute for a 3-1 lead. Jones sent a penalty corner to McCarthy, who sent a blast from the top of the circle, which Littig tipped home.
Ferraro capped the scoring for the half in the 32nd minute when she tipped home a shot by Wilcox following a corner.
UMass-Lowell maintained the run of play in the second half and made it 5-1 in the 44th minute. Sophomore Janelle DeCamillis sent a cross to Ferraro in the middle, whose shot was blocked to Auld, who tucked home outside the left post.
Junior Emily Painten completed the scoring in the 57th, similar to UMass Lowell's first and third goals. Following a corner by Ferraro, McCarthy's attempt from the top of the circle was blocked, but Painten was there for the finish.
"I thought we did a decent job of playing hard for 70 minutes, not great," said Hlebichuk. "We need to be better against Merrimack next week. It was really just about staying disciplined."
UMass-Lowell outshot AIC, 19-7 overall and 14-5 on frame. Hopkins stopped three shots for the River Hawks while Steiner had seven saves for AIC.