While many students were able to sit back and relax during fall break, the field hockey team had a busy weekend, squeezing in three games, all of which were on the road. The Cardinals won their first matchup but were not able to replicate their success in the following games.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, the team traveled to UMass Dartmouth and came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
After the UMass Minutewomen took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, the Cardinals fought back. Captain Amber Bruckner ’14 knotted the score at one apiece with her fourth goal of the season, while fellow captain Taylor Wells ’14 scored the go-ahead (and what proved to be the game-winning goal) early in the second half. The victory brought the Cardinals’ season record to 5-5, but not for long.
Two days after their victory over UMass, the Cardinals traveled to face Little Three rival Amherst. The Cardinals hung with the Division III 10th-ranked team but eventually fell 4-3.
“We played pretty well against UMass,” Captain Blair Ingraham ’14 said. “But we played awesome against Amherst. We came out strong and never let up.”
Coming into the game, Amherst sat atop the NESCAC standings with a 7-1 record, and was ranked 12th in the NCAA. The Cardinals knew that in order to have any chance of pulling off a major upset they would need to come out strong early, and that they did. In the 18th minute, Vanessa Block ’15 assisted Ingraham on her fifth goal of the season off a penalty corner, which gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
“Our goal was to come out strong, and we did just that,” Ingraham said. “We scored first and threw Amherst off of their game.”
In addition to getting that early lead, the Cardinals were able to stay composed in all areas of their game.
“We passed well, we were cutting to balls, and our defense didn’t let them get many shots off in the first half,” Ingraham said. “I don’t think they were expecting us to play as well as we did.”
This lead, however, did not last long. The Lord Jeffs responded 12 minutes later, leveling the score at one off a penalty stroke. With less than five minutes to play in the first half, the Cardinals struck back when Hannah Plappert ’16 scored off another penalty corner. At the end of the first half, the Cards led the Lord Jeffs 2-1 despite being outshot 10-5.
With the start of the second half, a revitalized Amherst team came looking to take control of the game. In a span of less than 10 minutes, the Lord Jeffs put six shots on goal, three of which got past goalie Sara Grundy ’16. The momentum of the game shifted, with Amherst now in control of the field and the scoreboard reading 4-2.
After Grundy let up her fourth goal of the contest, Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter decided to replace her with Sarah Prickett ’17, who finished out the game in net for the Cardinals, making two saves and allowing no goals.
“It’s always good for coaches to switch up the lineup and the momentum during a game,” Ingraham said. “It ensures that everyone is always working hard and reminds us that we always need to prove ourselves on the field.”
Although the Cardinals were down 4-2, they never lost hope and regrouped by putting one in the back of the net. Bruckner gave new life to the team when she scored off the rebound to cut the deficit to one. The Cardinals pressed hard and pushed the pace in an effort to even the score at four, but time ran out, and the Lord Jeffs hung on for a 4-3 win.
“We hope to continue to play with the same intensity and skill as we did against Amherst,” Ingraham said. “We’re really proud of our performance on Saturday and hope to carry that with us the rest of the season.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 23, the field hockey team finished its three-game road trip with a tough 2-0 loss to NESCAC rival Trinity. The Cardinals now sit seventh in the NESCAC standings with a 3-5 record.
The Cardinals look to gain some ground in the NESCAC this Saturday, Oct. 26 when they host fourth-ranked Middlebury for the last home game of the season as they prepare for the NESCAC tournament.
“We know that we can compete with anyone in our league,” Ingraham said, “And the NESCAC tournament will be a great challenge for us and an opportunity for us to prove ourselves against a top team.”