Nov. 4, 2008
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-In dramatic fashion, senior Rebecca Stephens (North Andover, MA/North Andover High) guaranteed that Tuesday night would not be her last as a UMass Dartmouth Corsair.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's field hockey team survived an incredible scare and provided an exhilarating finish, defeating Westfield State 3-2 in a Little East Conference first-round playoff match at Cressy Field Tuesday evening. All five of the game's goals were scored in the second half.
With only twelve seconds remaining in regulation time, Stephens (North Andover, MA/North Andover High) saved the day and perhaps the season for the Corsairs, scoring the game winning goal off a pass from Stephanie Kinchla (Falmouth, MA/Falmouth HS/Quinnipiac). The goal came a mere 49 seconds after Westfield State's Kasey Bascetta had tied the game at two apiece.
The Corsair bench counted down the final three seconds aloud, signifying their excitement and relief simultaneously at the end of a memorable contest.
After the game, UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Nicole Castonguay praised the clutch effort from Stephens. "That girl is a fighter," Castonguay said. "She's a great player. Everyone knows her as the optimist. She's the perfect player to have out there when you need a goal in the final minute."
Prior to the deciding goal, the Owls appeared to have completed a stunning comeback, erasing a late 2-0 deficit by scoring two goals with 10:08 and 1:01 remaining, respectively.
"We knew it would be a tough game; this is a matchup I thought would make a good final," Castonguay said. "Nothing is safe when it's 2-0 in a playoff game, even in the last five minutes."
Stephens also connected with Kinchla on the game's first goal, handling a partially deflected crossing pass and scored from the left of the net at 41:54. The Corsairs increased their lead to 2-0 on an unassisted goal scored off a penalty corner by junior midfielder Kylie Treat (Hampstead, NH/Pinkerton Academy) at the 44:18 mark.
After the two goals, the Corsairs appeared on their way to a comfortable victory, spending most of the next fifteen minutes on the attack. But the Owls came storming back, getting on the board with a Jessi Gould goal assisted by Kara Guittarr at 59:52. The aforementioned Bascetta goal came just over nine minutes later.
UMass Dartmouth improved to 16-5 with the victory, while Westfield State fell to 11-7 with the defeat. The Corsairs will visit Plymouth State Thursday afternoon in an LEC semi-final match, while the match completed the season for Westfield State, although they hope to receive a bid to the ECAC tournament.