In their first-ever encounter with the Hawks of Roger Williams located in Bristol, R.I., the Wesleyan field hockey team was the 1-0 victor, dominating all aspects of the game.
“I felt we played nicely as a team,” said Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter. “We were in our offensive end probably a good 80% of the game, maybe even more.”
From the opening whistle, the Cards controlled possession and set the pace of play. Despite getting some early open looks off of centering passes from Lauren Yue ’17 on penalty corners, Wes was unable to capitalize. The Redbirds had 14 penalty corners compared to the Hawks’ one. After the Cardinals failed to convert on three consecutive penalty corners, the Hawks went on the attack for the first time. Twelve minutes into the game, goalie Sara Grundy ’16 got her first taste of the action when she made her first of two saves of the night off a breakaway, maintaining the scoreless tie.
The Cards broke the deadlock and scored their first goal of the season in the thirteenth minute. Freshman attack Tierney Behles intercepted a Hawks’ pass and then hit fellow attack Mackey Hemphill ’15 in stride on the wing. Hemphill dribbled past a defender and drew attention, as she became more of a threat. She then centered a pass to Captain Hannah Plappert ’16 for the one timer. The crowd erupted as it heard the sound of the hard plastic ball hitting the wood at the back of the net.
“I think everyone really capitalized on what we have been working on since our first day last Tuesday,” Plappert said. “We have been focusing on give-and-goes and smart passing, and we really executed that today. We are thrilled with how we played, and this is a great start to the season.”
Despite the numerous looks on goal, outshooting the Hawks 16 to 6, the Old Methodists only had one goal to show for it.
“What we could do better is put more in the cage,” Klecha-Porter said. “I mean we had opportunities, so we just have to be a little bit more patient with each other and our control to really make that score happen.”
The Cardinals now have a few days to prepare for what will be one of their toughest competitors of the season. This Saturday, Sept. 6 at noon, Wesleyan will open conference play at home against Bowdoin, the reigning NCAA Division III National Champions and number-one ranked team in the national coaches’ poll.
Although the Cardinals dominated the game against the Hawks Tuesday night, the Polar Bears are a different caliber squad from Roger Williams, and have dominated the Cards over the last four seasons, outscoring them 10-3. Klecha-Porter knows the team will need to focus on its defense this week in practice.
“Sometimes coming off a game like this [where] we were so offensive, we are going to need to be really more structured on defense because there was no one in our defensive half [since] we were pushing up so much,” Klecha-Porter said. “I think we will have to stretch and lengthen the field more, and cover for each other a little bit better by working on our double teams [because] we were relying [too much] on one person to do the job.”
One positive takeaway from the game against Roger Williams that Wesleyan will need to employ against Bowdoin is the team camaraderie, which looked to have been in mid-season form.
“Something that is usually hard to get done at the beginning of the year is having the team chemistry with having people at the right place at the right time, and we really had that today,” Plappert said. “All the options were there, and we just have to finish it.”
The Cardinals will be carrying their confidence and momentum from Tuesday into Saturday’s game, hoping to send a message by upsetting the number- one team in the nation.
“Bowdoin is a great team [that plays] great hockey,” Plappert said. “We know we can play great hockey too, and we are going to play right up there with them and give them a good game.”