May 21, 2019

UMaine facing challenge> Bears open playoffs vs. fifth-ranked NU

What can the University of Maine field hockey team hope for when it faces the No. 5 team in the nation in its conference playoffs after falling to the perennial power 4-0 last week?

After taking a more analytical approach in practice this week, Maine coach Terry Kix said Maine stands a chance against Northeastern today in the America East Tournament in Brookline, Mass., if it can avoid mistakes.

“It was more of a skill breakdown. Our defense wasn’t in the proper position,” Kix said of Maine’s last loss. “They’re a good team, they capitalized on our mistakes.”

In the shutout on Saturday, Kix said the Bears overcommitted by rushing to the ball. As a result, they allowed Northeastern to bring the ball up the middle through Jen White and All-America candidate Keri Bettenhauser

Big mistake.

White set a school record for points this season with 55 and an America East record with 38 points and 16 assists in league games. Bettenhauser is second in the league with 55 points.

Kix said the Bears also made unusal mistakes on defense that cost them two goals and star goalie Cindy Botett had a poor game. Take away those rare variables and Kix said the game may have been vastly different. Northeastern only outshot Maine 12-7 and had three more corners.

“On defense we need to keep the ball wide and pick up on marking,” said Maine captain Jeni Turner. “They’re such a good team. Once we let down, they capitalized on mistakes which other team’s haven’t. Our defense is usually pretty solid.”

If the Bears can eliminate their gaffes today, they stand a chance to keep the game close. And Kix said, if Maine scores first, it may have a window of opportunity to win.

“Their goalie is very strong. But we’re capable of scoring on any team in the country,” Kix said.

Huskie goalie Danielle Butsch leads the conference with a .83 goals-against average and .857 save percentage, while Botett is second with 1.36 and .840.

Kix said what lends hope is Maine has more speed, passed well against Northeastern in the loss and actually controlled the first 10 minutes of the game. And Botett has been one of the top three goalies in the conference all season. She ranked in the top 10 in the nation through October.

“I need to focus on myself. To get the team going,” Botett said. “The intensity starts at the back, then it goes up to the forwards and comes back to me. I’m the last line of defense. Last weekend, I let myself down. Now I know what to expect. They didn’t do anything spectacular. They probably think we’re not as good. They will have a rude awakening.”

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