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UMass field hockey upsets No. 1 Syracuse 

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.

    COURTESY THOM KENDALL
    Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Molly MacDonnell, left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1.

    COURTESY THOM KENDALL
    Molly MacDonnell, left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1.

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Molly MacDonnell, third from left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1. Kim Young, left, and another teammate approach.

    COURTESY THOM KENDALL
    Molly MacDonnell, third from left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1. Kim Young, left, and another teammate approach.

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Noralie Weusthuis, right, of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her tying goal with Callie Sweigart, left, Molly MacDonnell and Kim Young Thursday at Gerber Field. UMass beat No. 1 Syracuse 2-1.

    COURTESY THOM KENDALL
    Noralie Weusthuis, right, of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her tying goal with Callie Sweigart, left, Molly MacDonnell and Kim Young Thursday at Gerber Field. UMass beat No. 1 Syracuse 2-1.

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.

    COURTESY THOM KENDALL
    Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.

  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.
  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Molly MacDonnell, left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1.
  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Molly MacDonnell, third from left, and Noralie Weusthuis of the University of Massachusetts celebrate Weusthuis' go-ahead goal against No. 1 Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field. UMass won 2-1. Kim Young, left, and another teammate approach.
  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Noralie Weusthuis, right, of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her tying goal with Callie Sweigart, left, Molly MacDonnell and Kim Young Thursday at Gerber Field. UMass beat No. 1 Syracuse 2-1.
  • COURTESY THOM KENDALL<br/>Thando Zono of the University of Massachusetts celebrates her goal, which gave UMass a 2-1 lead over No. 1-ranked Syracuse Thursday at Garber Field in Amherst. UMass won 2-1.

All season long the University of Massachusetts field hockey team has shown it can play with the top-ranked teams in the country.

On Thursday, it beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

The Minutewomen scored two second-half goals to come from behind and defeated No 1 Syracuse at Garber Field. It is believed to be the first time a women’s team has knocked off the top team in any sport.

“It doesn’t matter who steps on the field against them, they’ve been stepping up and going toe to toe with whoever is across the field from them,” UMass coach Carla Tagliente said. “The rankings didn’t mean much of anything. It was just an opportunity to play another great team and they just really executed well today.”

The Orange were 12-0 entering the contest, while the Minutewomen were 5-8. Regardless, UMass felt confident having played well against 10 other ranked teams during the season, going 4-6.

“We didn’t focus on what they were ranked. I think we played enough high-ranked team this year that it’s just a number to us,” Tagliente said. “The focus of this game was the strategy, what we wanted to do, where we thought they were weak.”

Alyssa Manley scored off a rebound with about 12 minutes left in the first half to give the Orange (12-1) a 1-0 lead.

Despite the deficit, the Minutewomen felt confident at halftime.

“The momentum of the game was largely in our favor,” Tagliente said. “We were pressing them well, we had ball-possession more, we had the ball in our attacking 25 more, we were outshooting by quit a bit and had a number of opportunities lying there in the front of the goal we just didn’t capitalize. The team knew that and their heads were up at halftime. We knew if we kept the pressure up we’d get one or two to fall.”

With about 15 minutes left, the Minutewomen broke through and tied the game. Noralie Weusthuis redirected a shot by Lauren Allymohamed and scored at 56:19 of the second.

UMass used the momentum and kept attacking. Thando Zono gathered a loose ball and scored with about seven minutes left.

“They really fed off that (first-goal) energy and kept the pressure on,” Tagliente said. “We didn’t change a thing tactically, they just knocked on the door, knocked on the door until they broke through.”

The UMass defense, back by goalie Sam Carlino (four saves), played tremendously against a high-powered offense. Syracuse had outscored its opponents 51-6 entering the game, outshot its foes 262-85 and held a 101-45 penalty corner edge.

That corner advantage held true against the Minutewomen. Syracuse had four corners to UMass’ one in the second half, but three of those came in the final 30 seconds, including two with no time left

“They really dug in deep there,” Tagliente said. “To have three in a row is not what you want in the end and you’re focus is just to get the ball out of the circle at that point. It’s not uncommon (to have multiple corners), but obviously it’s quit a stressful situation to have no time on the clock and your sitting there with the No. 1 team with three penalty corners. Credit to these guys, they held strong and executed very well.

It’s been a great week for Tagliente, who was inducted into the University of Maryland Hall of Fame on Oct. 5.

“It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” Tagliente said. “A lot of excitement and a lot of amazing things happening.”

UMass (6-8) closes its regular season with six Atlantic 10 games, beginning today when it hosts Saint Louis at 1 p.m. at Garber. The Minutewomen host Virginia Commonwealth Sunday at 1.

“We’re a dangerous team,” Tagliente said. “We have the ability to beat anybody on any day. We know that we just need to put it together every game, every time we step on the field. We’re getting there.”

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