Last Tuesday, Sept. 23, for the first time since 1985, the field hockey team lost to Mt. Holyoke on its home turf. On the first day of fall, the Cardinals fought hard but lost a close one, falling 2-1 in OT to the number 18 nationally ranked Lyons. With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 2-5 on the season.
“I think we played a really good game,” Captain Anna Howard ’15 said. “Coming back from being down is huge for us, and I think we really played well as a team.”
Five and a half minutes into the game, the Lyons had one of their three penalty corners of the half. After a clean inbound, the Mt. Holyoke player unleashed a laser shot that hit the back of the net before goalie Sara Grundy ’16 could even react. Suddenly, the sideline referee sprinted in, waving her hands to indicate a no-goal. According to the field hockey rules, a hard shot off a penalty corner will not count if it is above the 18-inch wood board at the back of the net. With this result, the Cardinals dodged a bullet, and the score remained 0-0. Besides that opportunity, neither team had many great chances. The Birds had only one penalty corner to go with their one shot, while the Lyons had two shots and three penalty corners.
“I think we dominated the first half,” said Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter. “I really felt the play was more in our offensive end, but we weren’t getting corners. I think they did not have a lot of possession. It was like, zing, and then back, and then we slowed it down, and then they would try to rush, and we would slow it down. I think that actually helped our rhythm.”
The second half looked like a totally different game. Both teams came out firing on all cylinders, trying to break the deadlock. The Lyons were given a penalty corner in the fifth minute of the second half. Although the shot got past Grundy, the ball hit the post, and Lilah Fones ’15 cleared the ball, giving the Lyons another corner. Grundy made the initial save off the penalty corner, but the Lyons followed up the rebound and put the ball in the back of the net, giving them a 1-0 lead. After Grundy made an incredible leg save in the 25th minute to keep the deficit at one, Klecha-Porter called a timeout. From the moment they returned to the field, the game was all Cardinals.
Over the span of the last 20 minutes in regulation, the Cardinals had eight penalty corners, took 11 shots, and scored one goal to tie the game up with 14:02 remaining. After the initial shot by Vanessa Block ’15 was blocked, Fones tipped the rebound to teammate Caitalin Majewski ’16, who buried the shot past the Lyons’ goalie. With the score knotted at one, the Cardinals continued to attack.
“One of our goals was to play our style and not get wrapped up in what the other team was doing,” Klecha-Porter said, “so we really took control in the second half.”
After 70 minutes of play, the score was still tied 1-1, so the teams headed into seven-on-seven golden goal overtime. The Cardinals picked up right where they left off at the end of regulation. In the first eight minutes of the OT session, the Cards controlled possession and created some great opportunities off of two penalty corners. At the 8:40 mark, all the Cardinals’ momentum and hard work went for naught when the Lyons took their lone shot of the OT frame, which found the goal and ended the game.
“It was a tough loss; overtime is always hard,” Howard said. “It can go either way, with seven on the field including the goalie. I am proud of us, even though it didn’t go in our favor.”
Despite the defeat, the Cardinals turned in one of their strongest games of the season and were rightfully pleased with the way they played. They controlled the pace of play, made clean passes, and outshot the Lyons 17-10.
“I am elated with how we played today,” Captain Hannah Plappert ’16 said after the game. “I think that everyone played really strong and with confidence. We had great ball movement and stick-to-stick passing. I think that it was the best game our team has played yet, and it’s a shame we didn’t get the win, but Mt. Holyoke is a great team, and there’s not much you can do on a goal like that. The overtime goal was awesome, and I just think everyone played well; it was a great battle.”
The Redbirds return to conference play for Family Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 27, when they host the Hamilton Continentals at noon on Smith Field.
“Hamilton is always a really rough game, and I am happy that in this game we came from a deficit; that’s hard to do in field hockey, so coming back from a deficit and getting it into overtime was big for us,” Plappert stated. “Last year at Hamilton, we actually ended up doing the same thing; we were down and came back to win it, so I am happy that we got this experience today, and we’re excited to play them on Saturday.”