The field hockey team knew it was in for an uphill battle this past Saturday; after all, it was on the road squaring off against Middlebury, which is atop the NESCAC standings and ranked third in the nation. The Cardinals never gave in but returned back to campus on the short end of a lopsided 6-0 score. The loss is the team’s sixth in a row, and the Cardinals fall to 3-11 on the season with a NESCAC record of 2-7, while the Panthers improve to 14-1 and 9-1 in conference.
“I think that the team played well together on Saturday,” said Captain Anna Howard ’15. “Although we lost, we competed throughout the entire game and gave 110 percent for every minute.”
The Panthers got off to a quick start when they were awarded a pen- alty stroke six-and-a-half minutes into the game, which they capitalized on. Five minutes later, the Panthers added another to extend their lead to 2-0. Despite taking 14 shots in the first half, the Panthers could not put the ball in the back of the net more than twice.
The second half of the game was very similar to the first, as the Panthers continued to apply the pressure on offense, which led to numerous opportunities. They took 15 shots compared to the Cardinals’ five and were award six penalty corners, four more than the Cardinals. The biggest difference between the two halves was the Panthers’ ability to convert. In a span of 22 minutes, the Panthers scored four goals, expanding their lead over the Cardinals to 6-0. Despite the Panthers taking 29 shots and eight penalty corners in the game, the Cardinals’ defense kept the game in reach. Goalie Sara Grundy ’16 had a season high 13 saves.
“The defense was definitely getting drilled with a lot of shots,” said Captain Hannah Plappert ’16. “Middlebury got a lot of corners and took a lot of shots, but Grundy did an awesome job of keeping us in the game. Our defense played really well.”
Despite the loss, the Cardinals came away from Saturday’s game pleased with the effort they gave against a strong opponent.
“Although we lost, everyone had a lot of fun,” Plappert said. “Middlebury is a great team, and we didn’t just let them walk all over us. We played an intense 70 minutes, and everyone was working hard and playing well.”
The Cardinals’ last regular season game is against Conn College at home on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Over the last 10 years, the Cardinals have had the edge over the Camels in eight out of the 10 matchups.
“I believe that if we keep playing as we have the last few games, we will have a very good game against Conn College on Wednesday,” Howard said.
As they enter their final game, the Cardinals currently sit tied with Hamilton for the eight seed in the NESCAC tournament, while Conn is ranked ninth, looking in from the outside. Since the Cardinals own the head- to-head match-up over the Continentals by defeating them 3-1 earlier in the season, a win against the Camels would send the Cardinals to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
“Wednesday is literally do or die,” Plappert said. “Everyone on the team knows how important the game is. We’re not ready to be done yet, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to earn another game. The most important thing for us is to just play as a team and have fun. When we have fun, we play well.”