The field hockey team’s monumental win this past Saturday, Oct. 5 over Colby will not be forgotten any time soon by the players involved. After giving up a game-tying goal with 10 minutes to play, the Cardinals made some exceptional defensive stands in the two overtime periods, sending the game into a stroke-off. Wes emerged victorious from this penalty shootout to pull out a 4-3 win.
After the game, Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter expressed how ecstatic she was with the hard-fought W.
“Words can’t express the joy that we have right now as a team and just connecting at the end was fantastic,” Coach Klecha-Porter said.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Cardinals endured immense offensive pressure, but Sara Grundy ’16 remained strong in goal and made some crucial saves. The Cardinals eventually cleared the ball and went to work on offense, which resulted in an early goal from Hannah Plappert ’16. Plappert stole possession and fired the ball to the back of the net after a failed clearance attempt by the Mules’ goalie.
“We came out really strong,” Plappert said. “We played with confidence, which is something we really like to do.”
By the end of the first half, the score stood at 1-0 in the Cardinals’ favor. However, a revived Colby team came hungry to level the match. The Mules controlled much of the play during the second half, getting off nine shots and 11 penalty corners compared to two shots and two penalty corners for Wes. Colby finally broke through with about 10 minutes to go, scoring off a rebounded shot that was initially saved by Grundy. The Mules continued to pound the ball into their offensive end, but the Cardinals’ defense would not break.
At the end of regulation, the teams were dead even at one apiece. At the onset of OT, the Mules picked up where they had left off at the end of regulation: persistently pressuring the Cardinals’ defense. In the first overtime period alone, the Mules put up six shots, but were still unable to break through.
“The defense was stellar and although they were fatigued and tired, they really positioned themselves and actually delayed tackling which allowed for their teammates to return,” Coach Klecha-Porter said. “They were in a very settled defensive mind which really was affective, and they did their job; just don’t let the ball in.”
If it were not for the defense and Grundy, the game would have never made it OT. In total, Colby outshot Wesleyan 12-8 and had 20 penalty corners compared to Wesleyan’s four. With her incredible performance in net, saving 13 out of 14 shots, Grundy improved her season save percentage to .809.
“What was really great was we all played as a team especially in overtime; our defense really kept us alive,” Plappert said. “Grundy had some amazing saves.”
After the game, captain Blair Ingraham ’14 further commended the incredible job done by the defense.
“Our low defenders Lilah Fones ’15 and Anna Howard ’15 did a great job of keeping their space and composing us,” Ingraham said. “We were all so tired from playing the first overtime and the entire game, and they just held us together.”
Due to the stellar performance by the defense, the game was still tied at the end of the second overtime, and so the two teams headed into a stroke-off. Mackey Hemphill ’15 got things started off on the right note for the Cardinals, but the Mules responded with a goal of their own. Both teams were denied in the next two rounds. Captain Amber Bruckner ’14 gave the Cardinals the lead, but once again, the Mules answered. It all came down to the fifth round. Hannah Plappert stepped up. After making her move against the goalie, Plappert found the back of the net. Grundy came out of her net to make the key and game-winning save as Wes took the stroke-off 3-2 and the game 4-3.
“It’s definitely exciting to execute what you practice,” Plappert said. “We spend hours and hours of practice practicing for just [stroke-offs] so it is nice to finally execute and do what your coach wants and work together as a team.”
With this win, the Cardinals improve to 4-4 overall with a 3-2 record in the NESCAC. They now hold sole position of fifth place in the NESCAC standings.
“Colby has been such a strong contender in the NESCAC this season, and they have been putting up some big scores, and we wanted to come out here and prove to them that we also deserve to be at the top of the NESCAC,” Ingraham said.
And the team did just that. The Cardinals could not have asked for a better way to start off the second half of the season. Now they look to carry this momentum into their upcoming games, especially the one this Saturday, Oct. 12, in which they will face NESCAC and Little Three rival Williams on Smith Field.