WATERVILLE — Give the Colby women’s hockey team a replay of the first 16 minutes and they might win easily. Give the Mules another 15 seconds at the end of the game and they might force overtime.

Instead, it was a day of near-misses for the Mules. They fell behind UMass-Boston 3-0 in the first period, and a late comeback fell just short as the Beacons took a 4-3 decision on Sunday afternoon at Alfond Rink.

Katie Loiselle scored two goals and had an assist for UMass-Boston (2-6-1). Colby sophomore Megan Fortier had two goals in the third period.

Senior captain Brianne Wheeler has played every minute in goal for Colby this season, but got the day off on Sunday. Sophomore Angelica Crites, making her first career start, finished with 27 saves, including 20 in the last two periods.

“We wanted to give our other goalie a chance to see what she could do in the game,” Colby interim coach Mallory Young said. “She’s doing all right. She’s got some things to work on, some improvements to make. Getting her game experience is a good thing to do at this point.”

Crites was swarmed early, but UMass-Boston didn’t score until Samantha Fallon punched in a rebound with 10:17 left in the first period. Less than four minutes later, Tori Pizzuto fed Loiselle for a goal, and it was 2-0.

That lead grew to 3-0 with 4:40 left in the period. Jenny Currie came down the left side and fired a well-placed shot into the upper right corner for the score.

“We knew that we were going to have to get shots right away, and we were going to have to crash the net — whoever was playing in net,” UMass-Boston coach Colleen Harris said. “We’ve had a little bit of a scoring issue for the past few games. I think (today) we were utilizing each other, and we were using our feet more. It gave us some opportunities off the wall, and it gave us some different looks from around the ice, rather than just standing still and trying to use our hands more.”

Crites settled down and played admirably the rest of the game. She made some tough saves at the end of the first period to keep the score at 3-0, and the only other goal she allowed was on a 1-on-1 breakaway by Loiselle in the third period.

Colby treaded water for a while, then got on the board with 2:04 to play in the second period. UMass-Boston goalie Moe Bradley stopped the initial shot by Elisa Rascia, but Samantha Slotnick was there for the top-shelf follow-up to make it 3-1.

“We started executing what we needed to do — started playing our game, started playing our system,” Young said. “A little bit sloppy at the beginning, but I think it’s just working off a little bit of days off and trying to figure out how to get back on the same page.”

Loiselle’s breakaway goal made the lead 4-1 with 14:03 left, but Fortier scored just 25 seconds later. After a rough penalty gave the Mules a power play, Fortier found an opening down the middle and scored again to get Colby within 4-3 with 2:26 to go.

The next two minutes turned out to be crucial. Colby could not establish control, so Crites didn’t even get to begin to head to the bench until there were just 16 seconds remaining. But in the final 11 seconds, Colby had three shots with the extra skater. The first went wide, and Bradley saved the next two.

“I think, in a way, we’re still trying to identify ourselves and figure out what it takes to actually win a hockey game,” Harris said. “It wasn’t pretty. It scared us a little bit. But we found a way to it, and I think that shows maturity, and it shows growth for where we’ve come since the beginning of the season.”

Colby had won three straight before Sunday’s loss. The Mules have two more non-conference games this weekend: At home against Salve Regina on Friday and at the University of Southern Maine on Saturday afternoon. Those are their last games until Jan. 3.

“We’re playing OK,” Young said. “I’d say today wasn’t our best. But we’ve got a full week of practice, and then we’ve got our two games, so that will help them get back in a rhythm.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo