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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Clarity Between the Pipes

First there were three. Then two. And then just one. When the dust had settled, Leah Hallett was the lone goalie standing.

In this season’s first trimester, sophomore Aly Garnett, Hallett and fellow freshman Jami Cudmore split time in net. After three games, Garnett became ineligible which led to Hallett and Cudmore splitting time in net. Lady Beacons head coach Maura Crowell saw a well-oiled tandem developing, as Hallett would start Friday night games while Cudmore would man the crease on Saturdays, keeping both fresh and more focused on the opponent in front of them.

But just as the Lady Beacons’ murky goaltending situation was beginning to clear up, injury struck.

On December 6, with Cudmore in net against Norwich University, a pile up in front of UMass Boston’s net spelled disaster. In the heap, a Norwich player inadvertently fell on Cudmore’s left leg, bending her knee backwards, causing tears of both the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. In the blink of an eye, Cudmore’s season had ended.

“Just when I felt like we had a nice goaltending tandem working out,” Crowell said, “the rug gets pulled from under you a little bit. I’d say that the goaltending position has been a little inconsistent over the years, so we had some consistency finally and then… the injury happens.

“The good part of it is that Leah has stepped into the role and done a really nice job and is continuing to get better.”

Going into Valentine’s Day weekend, Hallett has been a rock in net for the Lady Beacons, who find themselves in the thick of the ECAC Women’s East playoff race.

A graduate of the Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford, Connecticut, Hallett has started in 12 straight games for the Lady Beacons and she’s not in jeopardy of losing her starting job anytime soon. Over her last six games, the 5’7″ netminder has a 3-2-1 record to go along with a .943 save percentage and a 1.66 goals against average.

Crowell, who listed Hallett first on her goaltender depth chart at the beginning of the season, has been very impressed with the freshman’s composure and is pleased with her progression.

“We’re so lucky, so fortunate to have a strong goalie in Leah who is mentally tough and physically tough,” she said. “She’s working really hard on her rebound control. That’s always something goalies… struggle with and can always improve on, and I think she’s getting better and better with that.”

Hallett, on the other hand, is just happy she has received the opportunity to play every game and prove that she can succeed on the collegiate level, even if it came about because of an injury to her roommate. “Its been a great opportunity, just being able to get playing time at all as a freshman, let alone being the starting goalie on the team,” Hallett said. “Things just fell into place.”

At the beginning of the season, Crowell’s expectations for Hallett were high, but the emergence of Cudmore, a Balgonie, Saskatchewan native, allowed the fourth-year coach to not apply too much pressure to her. But now that pressure is squarely on her shoulders and Crowell is amazed by Hallett’s ability to learn the college game quickly and adapt on the fly.

“Leah has spring boarded past all my expectations,” Crowell said. “I’ve seen a lot of goalies over the years kind of not handle that pressure so well and have really off-games, where maybe Leah has had stretches of time in-game that haven’t been great, but overall she’s always keeping us in the games. She’s gone way past what I thought she was going to do when she showed up this season in September.”

The amount of success Hallett has been having might have been nothing more than a welcome surprise at first, but now that the freshman has been sustaining a high level of play, Crowell is expecting the best and brightest moments of her early UMass Boston career to arrive once the Lady Beacons reach the playoffs. She is confident that Hallet will not be flustered or intimidated by the amped atmosphere of the ECAC Women’s East playoffs, thanks to the competition she has seen in the regular season.

“She’s got it in her and the cool thing is that she has seen all sorts of situations now…She’s been in really tight games, she’s seen the best,” said Crowell. “We’ve played Middlebury, Manhattanville [and] Holy Cross, so I think [in] her short, little career, she’s seen pretty much all types of games so when we get to the playoffs it’s not going to be a huge change and mentally she’ll stay just the way she is now and look at it as another important game.”

Ryan Thomas can be reached at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Ryan Thomas served as the sports editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2007-2008; 2008-2009