UMass-Lowell defeats Merrimack, moves on to NCAA Championship
LOWELL, Mass. -- Freshman Jenna Freitas scored one goal and assisted on another as UMass-Lowell defeated Merrimack 2-0 Friday in the NCAA Division II Field Hockey Tournament semifinal at Cushing Field.
With the win, UMass-Lowell improved to 19-3 overall and meets West Chester on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET for the NCAA Championship. West Chester defeated Shippensburg 3-2 in the other semifinal match.
The victory was also the 200th for head coach Shannon Hlebichuk during her 11-year career, improving her all-time record to 200-49.
Merrimack ends its season 17-4.
Sunday’s Championship match is a repeat from last year’s title game, in which the Rams prevailed against the River Hawks 2-1.
The shutout was UMass-Lowell’s fifth in its last six matches and 11th of the season. Junior goalkeeper Melanie Hopkins turned away four shots.
UMass-Lowell opened the scoring in the 29th minute when junior forward Rachel McCarthy had a shot blocked from the top of the circle. Freitas took the rebound and slid the ball across the crease to senior midfielder Vanessa Kent, who shot into an empty cage.
Merrimack had an opportunity six minutes into the second half to capitalize on a 10 on eight situation when Freitas and senior back Sarah Wilcox were both serving yellow card penalties. UMass-Lowell’s backline, however, stood firm and held the Warriors without a shot.
Merrimack had its chances, however, and nearly leveled in the 51st when junior midfielder Jen Otis found space at the top of the circle, only for Hopkins to parry to her right and out of play.
Merrimack threatened again in the 58th minute when junior forward Candace Waldie broke free to the right, but Hopkins read it well and snuffed the ball out of play.
The River Hawks put the match out of reach in the 60th minute when sophomore forward Bianca Jones drew Merrimack goalkeeper Kerri Bergquist to the right before flicking to Freitas, who finished on the left of the cage.
UMass-Lowell outshot Merrimack 12-6 overall and 5-4 on frame. Bergquist had three saves for the Warriors.