Over a picture-perfect New England fall weekend, the Wesleyan field hockey team made history, as Patti Klecha-Porter earned her 200th win in her 31st season as the Cardinals’ head field hockey coach. The win came in a 1-0 victory over Colby at Smith Field on Saturday, Oct. 10.
“Patti is the type of coach that while you’re playing you want to do well because she loves field hockey so much and she loves spending her time with us out here,” commented Captain Hannah Plappert ’16. “We want to do well just to show her that we care just as much about this team as she does. Getting the 200th win for her I think is just a great milestone to accomplish here at Wesleyan because it shows all the work she puts into Wesleyan field hockey.”
After a devastating 3-0 loss to Hamilton on Saturday, Oct. 3, the Cardinals aimed to get back in the win column with a victory against the Mules. While the Birds led the head-to-head matchup 13-7 over the Mules, they knew Saturday’s game would be a competitive battle. Out of the previous 20 times the two teams had faced each other, 13 of those games were decided by one goal. Although the Cardinals had zero penalty corners compared to the Mules’ eight, they found other ways to force the attack. With just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half, the Mules turned the ball over near midfield, and Plappert began the counter attack for the Cardinals. The turnover would prove costly in a matter of moments; as Plappert carried the ball down the right sideline, Tierney Behles ’18 made a run toward the goal. Plappert centered the pass to Behles, who had beaten her defender. The ball found her stick, and she shot past the diving Mules’ goalie. Behles’ second goal of the season gave the Cardinals a 1-0 advantage that they would not relinquish.
“Our game against Colby was really exciting because it was Patti’s 200th win,” said captain Caitlin Majewski ’16. “It’s great to honor her and her success here at Wesleyan.”
Despite the historic victory for Coach Klecha-Porter, the Cardinals did not have much time to celebrate, as they prepared to battle Division III’s third-ranked squad, Middlebury, on Sunday, Oct. 11. Although the Cardinals had fallen to the Panthers in their previous 15 meetings, they were determined to give Middlebury a run for their money. While the final score read 3-0 in favor of the Panthers, it was not indicative of the Cardinals’ performance.
“I think it was a really great showing in our game against Midd, and we held them until the last five minutes,” Majewski said. “Midd is ranked number three right now, so it just goes to show we can [compete with] any team.”
Coming off her first shutout of the season against Colby, goalie Sara Grundy ’16 gave one of her best, if not the best, performances of the season. Grundy had a season-high of 16 saves, and played an integral role in keeping the Cardinals in the game deep into the second half. She kept the Panthers off the board until the 57th minute, when, after being awarded their third corner in a span of less than three minutes, they broke the 0-0 tie. While the Panthers would tack on two more goals in the final five minutes of play, the final score did not do justice to Grundy’s or the Cardinals’ play on Sunday.
“Oh my gosh, Grundy played really well,” Coach Klecha-Porter exclaimed after the game. “It felt like the game was pretty balanced, especially in the first half. I think we did a great job of just holding them as long as we did. What I liked the most was when the other team scored, we fought back immediately. We never gave up, and played a good strong 70 minutes all the way through.”
Despite the loss on Sunday, the Cardinals left the field with their heads up high. They know what they are capable of doing down the stretch of the regular season. They now have a week to rest up and prepare for their final home game of the regular season against Williams on Saturday, Oct. 17 at noon. The Cards have their sights set on winning their first Little Three title since 2003, and if they play the way they did against the Panthers, the have a great opportunity to capture the title.
“Even though we lost this game, we are walking off the field with our heads up because it was a great battle and a really great game of field hockey,” Plappert said. “Our goal for the rest of the season is to come out to every game like we played today, and I think we will start raking in more wins. Our goal is to take the Little Three at this point.”