A Dance with the Big Dogs

Ryan Thomas

Get in line behind the Mass Media if you’re all over Maria Nasta’s smile. But don’t get too rowdy, or she’ll put a puck between your eyes at 20 paces. And she’s got all her teeth too! Photo courtesy of UMB Athletics

Maria Nasta was so electric on the ice that she made the power go out. The sophomore transfer scored a short-handed goal in the first period and an even-strength goal in the third, her first two as a Beacon. But even that wasn’t enough to get the win.

The nationally-ranked Manhattanville College Valiants came into the Clark Athletic Center and defeated the UMass Boston Beacons 4-2 on Friday night. Manhattanville forwards Amanda Nonis and Danielle Nagymarosi each scored twice in the win.

“She’s pretty awesome,” Beacons coach Maura Crowell said about Nagymarosi. “Every team that she’s on, she seems to find the back of the net against us.” The junior forward has seen success against UMass Boston with both Manhattanville College and Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Beacons were challenged all game by the quick forwards of Manhattanville, committed nine penalties, and paid the price. The Valiants scored three times on the power play, twice off the blade of Nagymarosi.

Manhattanville controlled the puck early and often, leading to their first power play and goal. Amanda Nonis stuffed the puck stick side on UMass Boston goalie Brittany Squillante at the 2:49 mark of the first period to begin the scoring.

The Manhattanville lead didn’t last long as Maria Nasta broke down the left wing and showed why coach Crowell talks so highly of her. She sped past two Manhattanville defenders, faked glove side, cut right and buried the puck in the net. “It just snuck in there,” Nasta said about her first goal. “I was nervous; I didn’t know if I was going to miss.” Crowell was impressed by Nasta’s work in the offensive end, “great finish, clutch performance” and overall “she was working all over the ice.”

First-year Manhattanville head coach Laura McAuliffe knew what to expect from Nasta coming into the game. Her Valiants faced Nasta previously when she was a freshman at New England College. Said McAuliffe, “I knew what she was capable of. She’s a really strong player and [I was] impressed by her.”

Manhattanville forward Jessica Zimmerman also spoke highly of Nasta’s performance. “She had some good breaks there that kind of caught us off guard,” she said. “Two goals is pretty good, for a sophomore especially, playing against a top team.”

Nasta’s goal tied the game 1-1 at the 5:51 mark of the first period. Twenty-seven seconds later, the power went out.

“I was a little bit thrown off,” McAuliffe said about the loss of light. “Nothing you can really do about it [though]. It’s a matter of staying loose and getting refocused.” Zimmerman added that it “affected our momentum a little bit.” Crowell wasn’t too happy about the stoppage of play either. “Not something you want to happen at your season opener,” she said.

After a 22-minute delay, play resumed and Manhattanville started flexing their nationally-ranked muscles. Less than a minute after play resumed, Nonis scored her second goal of the period. She skated down the left wing, cut off Beacon defenders and put the puck away low and to the left, giving her team the lead for good.

Throughout much of the game, the Beacons played to not let Manhattanville score, rather than playing to score themselves. Crowell explains that it’s all about confidence with her Beacons. “I think we tend to do that when we expect the other team to be better.

“We’ll wait for them to do something then jump on them, instead of us getting to the puck first and … dictating the game. It’s [about] having confidence, its knowing we can skate with that team.”

Crowell said her team’s defensive effort was good, they just need to stay out of the penalty box. She added that she wants her defense to give the team scoring opportunities as well as steady work in the defensive end.

In her first ever collegiate start, Crowell thought that freshman goalie Brittany Squillante held her own. “Eliminating the flurries in front of the net” is all she needs to do, Crowell said. “I think the more experience that she has, the better she’s going to understand what she can do.”