The field hockey team was unable to clinch a spot in the NESCAC playoffs this weekend as the Cards lost their second straight NESCAC match 2-1 at Amherst. The win propelled the Lord Jeffs (7-5, 3-4 NESCAC) to sixth place, one spot above the Cards. Wesleyan must maintain its current standing with a week left in regular season play, as only the top seven teams make it to the post-season.
The game started out very even and play was back-and-forth, with Wesleyan gaining the lead just ten minutes in. After Amherst committed a penalty in the circle, Hailey Sarage ’08 put home her second penalty stroke of the season to give the Cards the 1-0 lead. The goal was Sarage’s fifth of the season, tying her with Amanda Nichols ’08 for most goals.
However, almost 15 minutes later, Amherst came back with two quick goals within a minute of each other. As the half ended, Amherst led 2-1 while Wesleyan held a small advantage in shots on net, 5-4. It appeared that the game could go either way in the second half, but Amherst saw to it that it wouldn’t.
The Lord Jeffs came out firing and dominated much of the second half. Goalie Breen McDonald ’10 did her best to keep Wesleyan in the game, stopping all nine Amherst shots in the half. Amherst also played a strong defense as Wesleyan was unable to convert any of their offensive breaks into a shot.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t come out playing our best game against Amherst,” said co-captain Adrienne Shea ’08. “It would have been really nice to have clinched our spot in the playoffs on Saturday, but we are still in a good position. I guess we are just getting our kinks out before the tournament.”
Wesleyan has only one game remaining in the regular season. The team plays powerhouse NESCAC rival Bowdoin College on Saturday. Bowdoin is undefeated on the season, boasting an impressive 12-0 record (8-0 NESCAC), currently ranked first in the nation.
“After the game, our coach told us that Saturday’s game is an amazing opportunity for us,” Shea said. “Not everyone gets a chance to compete against the number-one team in the nation. And we are taking that attitude into the game. I don’t doubt that if we play our strongest field hockey that we will come out on top.”
Bowdoin is not a must-win for the Cards, however, as their chances still remain high to make the tournament. Connecticut College, now in eighth place, stands in Wesleyan’s way but must win both of its last NESCAC games to get into the tournament. They play sixth-place Amherst on Tuesday and third-place Tufts on Saturday. With a loss in either game, Wesleyan will enjoy a seed in the first round of the esteemed NESCAC tournament.
For now, however, the Cards are only focused on themselves.
“We are so excited for Saturday’s game,” Shea said. “We really want to send a message to the rest of the teams about what to expect from us in the playoffs. A strong game against Bowdoin would definitely do that.”