The field hockey team split NESCAC games this week, picking up its sixth consecutive win with a 1-0 victory over Bates College on Saturday before losing to Tufts 2-0 on Wednesday. The week’s play moved the Cards record to 7-5 (3-4 NESCAC), good enough for sixth place in the standings, up one from last week.
The Cardinals came out firing in the Bates game, out-shooting their opponents 10-3 in the first half. But Bates Goalie Helena Turner was solid in net, and Wesleyan was unable to find the back of the net until about halfway into the opening half. After a Bates player was called for a foul inside the Bobcats’ own defensive crease, Alexa David ’10 took a penalty corner. David fired the ball to the top of the circle where Maddie Rottman ’08 drove the ball toward net. Jamie Thabault ’10 redirected the shot to David, who tipped the ball into the back of the cage.
“The ball moved very quickly for the whole play and everyone was ready with their sticks down, making it easy for us to capitalize on such a quick moving ball,” David said. “It was a really exciting play and definitely pumped everyone up, especially since one of our team goals is to always score first.”
David is now tied for second on the team in scoring, alongside Adrienne Shea ’08 and Hailey Sarage ’09, with four goals on the season. The Cardinals boast 10 players who have scored this year, showing their greatly improved depth.
Breen MacDonald ’10 played another great game in goal, stopping all nine Bates shots and earning her third shutout of the season. Breen’s .807 save percentage is good for fifth among all NESCAC goalies.
“We really proved something to ourselves by holding onto our first-half lead for the entire game,” David said. “Earlier in the season we had a few games where we would take the lead and then become complacent, which tended to result in losses. These past victories have shown how much we have changed this attitude as we have stayed strong and never let our guard down, continuing offensive pressure throughout the entire 70 minutes,” David added.
Despite their continued strong play, the Cardinals were unable to extend their winning-streak on Wednesday against the Tufts Jumbos. Tufts entered the game ranked 17th in the nation with an 8-3 record overall and a 5-2 record in the conference.
The contest saw aggressive back-and-forth play. The Jumbos’ style of play was very scrappy and they challenged hard on every 50-50 ball. In addition, they were able to effectively stifle many of the Cardinal wings by double-teaming and collapsing on the ball carrier.
“One of our strengths is in our wing play and Tufts was very effective at double-teaming the wings and putting a lot of pressure on them,” said Molly O’Connell ’09.
Tufts’ first goal originated off of a penalty corner just over eight minutes into the first half. A Tufts player at the top of the circle sent a hard ball toward the net that ended up hitting off of several sticks, eventually making it to the back of the net in the scramble. The Jumbos added their second tally eight minutes into the second half.
“Both their goals were kind of fluke-y, but at the same time we were unable to capitalize on any of our offensive chances,” Shea said.
Tufts stopped all seven shots on net in the first game this season in which Wesleyan was unable to score.
The Cardinals had a relatively rough start to their 2007 campaign, losing their first two games and their first three NESCAC games. However, the team made a few adjustments and quickly became a formidable force on the field. During their six-game win-streak the Cards enjoyed three shutouts and two overtime wins, outscoring their opponents 16-4.
“Things really started to fall in place for us,” Shea said. “We knew that wins would eventually come if we continued to play and practice as hard as we had been. We also finally have been able to play two strong halves, instead of showing up for just parts of the game. Despite the loss against Tufts, I think we are still playing the best field hockey now.”
There are just two games remaining in regular season play, both against conference opponents. This Saturday the Cards travel to Amherst College to take on a Lord Jeffs squad ranked seventh in the NESCAC, right behind Wesleyan. A win this weekend would guarantee a spot in the postseason. Wesleyan wraps up its season the following Saturday against first place Bowdoin.