FIELD HOCKEY WINS ATLANTIC 10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
Nov. 3, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. - Senior defender Thando Zono recorded three goals, including the game-winning tally, to send No. 2 seed and No. 19 nationally ranked UMass field hockey to its 13th Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship in program history with a 5-0 win over No. 1 seed and No. 16 nationally ranked Richmond. With the win, the Minutewomen earned the right to host the Northeast Conference Tournament Champions, Rider University, for an NCAA Tournament Play-In Game on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. on Garber Field.
"It feels a little surreal still but I will sink in later," UMass head coach Carla Tagliente said. "It feels great, I am really happy for the team and really proud of them. They did everything and anything we asked them to do today and just executed, so I couldn't be more proud of the group."
Senior midfielders Kate Heineman and Kim Young added a goal each for the Minutewomen (14-8) in the victory at Garber Field on Saturday afternoon while Zono, the A-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, finished the championship with 11 points on five goals and an assist.
"I was just playing my game," said Zono on scoring thee goals against the Spiders. "It wasn't a case of being told, `Thando, you need to be scoring.' I was just in the right positions and executing the set plays - I scored off of corners - so I was just very thankful for that. To stay in the game and be focused for that long of a time, I just tried to stay as calm as possible and enjoy every moment."
Zono opened scoring with an unassisted tally at the 9:58 mark of play. Zono created the play by dribbling into the center of the circle before firing an on-target shot, with Richmond goalie Anna Zarkoski dropping to the ground to block the initial attempt. However, Zono was able to collect the rebound before the Spiders defense could clear the ball from the circle and fire a rebound shot over Zarkoski for the 1-0 win.
Zono continued scoring in the 33rd minute to double the UMass lead on the first of three penalty corner goals for the Minutewomen on the day. Heineman inserted the play to senior defender Callie Sweigart, who stopped the ball at the top of the center of the circle for Zono. The Grahamstown, South Africa, native took one touch to her right before rocketing the second goal of the game into the center of the cage.
Exiting halftime with a two-goal advantage, Heineman added to the lead only eight minutes into the final stanza to push UMass ahead, 3-0. Young used a run at the Richmond cage to draw in the Spiders defense before sending a hard pass across the goalmouth to Heineman, who notched her second goal of the season with a shot into the center of the netting.
The Minutewomen turned the contest into a rout in the 57th minute on Young's 13th goal of the season. Using a penalty corner, senior defender Hannah Prince started the play at the endline while Sweigart notched her second assist with a clean stop at the top of the circle. Sweigart tapped a pass to Young, who redirect the ball past Zarkoski and into the right side of the Richmond cage to extend the lead to 4-0.
Zono capped scoring in the 64th minute with her first collegiate hat trick and second penalty corner goal of the day. Heineman and Sweigart earned assists as Zono fired a hard shot through the Richmond defense and into the left side of the cage, lodging the ball between the goal netting and the back-left post for the fifth UMass goal.
The Minutewomen led in shots, 13-8 and penalty corners, 6-4. Zarkoski blocked five on-target UMass attempts for Richmond while freshman goalkeeper Sam Carlino turned aside two shots in the cage for the Minutewomen and Heineman added a defensive save to help secure the third shutout of the season.
Following the victory, UMass had five players named to the A-10 All-Tournament Team in Zono, Carlino, sophomore defender Lauren Allymohamed, senior forward Nicole Cordero and freshman midfielder Noralie Weusthuis.