The field hockey team has had a rough past two games. On Saturday, the Cardinals traveled to Brunswick, ME to take on NCAA runner-up and second nationally-ranked Bowdoin to kick off their NESCAC play. After a 5-0 loss in Brunswick, the Cards took on Mount Holyoke College on Tuesday looking to rebound. Unfortunately, the squad returned to campus with its fourth loss of the season, this time by a score of 3-0. Over this span of four days, the Cards were outshot 36-7 and 21-0 in the first half of the two games combined, and were outscored 8-0.
Heading into the game against the Polar Bears, the Cardinals knew they were going to be pushed to their limits and experience a pace of play they had not seen this season. That’s exactly what they got on Saturday.
“Bowdoin was a highly competitive team, playing with speed and intensity for the full 70 minutes,” said captain Caitlin Majewski ’16. “The team came out and immediately set the pace. I think the biggest takeaway is that we need to step onto the field every game and play 70 minutes of intense Wesleyan field hockey.”
The Bears from Maine came out firing, and less than six minutes into the contest put themselves ahead 1-0. While the Cards were able to keep the home side off the scoreboard for roughly the next 20 minutes, Sara Grundy ’16, who finished the day with a season high of 13 saves, and the defense was never given a moment’s rest. The Polar Bears found the back of the net in the 25th minute of play, and 24 seconds later they did it again. With less than five minutes remaining in the first half, Bowdoin added to its lead to take a commanding 4-0 advantage at halftime.
The story was similar in the second half as Bowdoin’s captain Rachel Kennedy added one more for the Bears and completed her second hat trick of the season. In addition to its dominating performance on offense, the home side did not relinquish a shot or penalty corner to the Cardinals for the entire 70 minutes.
“I think Bowdoin’s showing on Saturday was the best field hockey performance that I’ve ever played against,” commented captain Michaela Celella ’16. “Each player on the team played with intensity, speed, skill, and a real love for the game. That being said, we have a great team as well, with a lot of talent and passion for the game and we’re not going to just sit back and accept losses. We held Bowdoin to one goal in the second half, getting tougher rather than collapsing under the pressure, which we are proud of.”
After the game against the Bears, the Cardinals had to put the loss behind them and prepare to take on the Lyons of Mt. Holyoke in their last non-conference game of the season.
The game started in a very similar way to the battle up in Brunswick. In the 12th minute of play, Grundy saved the Lyons’ initial shot, but the opposing offense batted the rebound past her for the goal. Mt. Holyoke continued to pressure the Cardinals’ defense and finally capitalized, with two more goals in a span of 18 seconds with 15 minutes to go in the half. For the second straight game, the Cardinals were held without a shot in the first 35 minutes of play.
“I think that we need to have the confidence to play our own game as a team right from the first whistle, rather than waiting to see what our opponent is going to come out like,” Celella stated. “Each player on the field is skilled, and we need to have the confidence that we deserve to win, to score goals, and to make amazing plays.”
Despite being down 3-0, the Cardinals came out in the second half with new life, and looked like a completely different team.
“We really did come out much harder in the second half,” Celella said. “The recurring problem with the team this year is playing a better second half and starting out slower in the first.”
The Cards dominated much of the play in the second frame, outshooting the Lyons 7-5. During the second half, they were also awarded six penalty corners, but couldn’t convert, which was the difference in the game.
“We need to capitalize on every moment moving forward because penalty corners can make or break a game,” Majewski said. “We have corners that we know work and it’s just a matter of executing those corners in stressful game situations.”
After two tough road losses, the Cardinals return to Smith Field to host Bates on Sat., Sep. 26th at 11 AM. The Redbirds intend to get their season back on track and continue their success against the Bobcats on Saturday.
“If each player believes they deserve to make the plays that Rachel Kennedy made against us, right from the beginning, Bates will be in for a tough game on Saturday,” Celella said.