BRUNSWICK — The University of New England’s field hockey season ended Saturday with a 3-0 loss to Wellesley in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bowdoin College.

Wellesley (17-3) will take on undefeated Bowdoin (19-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bowdoin. The winner will advance to the Final Four at Lexington, Virginia.

Wellesley was able to keep the ball in the UNE end and fired off 18 shots. Twelve were on net and only the play of junior goalie Holly Smith kept the score from becoming even more one-sided.

“She’s a big part of our defense,” said Coach Danielle Collins of UNE (17-7). “Everybody kind of looks at the people on the field as the defense, but your goalie is the biggest defense. She’s got a ton of experience, she’s played basically every minute since she got here as a freshman. Holly is really a leader back there.”

Neha Vellanki, Courtney Peterson and Anissa Sridhar scored for Wellesley, and Lucy Hurlock turned away a pair of shots to record the shutout.

Smith might have anchored the defensive effort, but UNE had a strong game across the field to limit the Blue’s scoring chances.

Wellesley racked up 18 penalty corners, but were only able to turn two of them into goals.

“Our team in general today knew it was going to be a defensive battle,” said Collins. “Our goalie all the way through our forward line, everyone had to play defensively. We didn’t really get a break. It’s great to see how well we did with only giving up three goals in 70 minutes with the amount of attack they did have.”

UNE, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year, recognizes that this was another step forward for the program – one that Collins has coached for three seasons.

Only two players from this year’s squad – Haley Pelletier and Alyssa Kowal – will graduate.

The Nor’easters will return their top four scorers next year. Back in the fold next year will be Smith, Nicole Matarozzo (17 goals), Vonde Saunders (13 goals) and midfielder Desirae LeBlanc, all of whom were first-team player on the Commonwealth Coast Conference all-star squad.

Also back will be the conference’s rookie of the year, Kersey Boulary, a defender who scored six goals this season, and Olivia Madore, a sophomore midfielder from North Yarmouth Academy who was on the conference’s second team.

“We know what we need to work on for next year,” said Collins. “We’re only graduating two, so it’s a huge team coming back. It’s a great thing for us, but we are still young so it’s a matter of continuing to learn as we go through it.”


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