On a rainy and windy Wednesday night in New London, the Wesleyan field hockey team saw its 2015 season come to a conclusion with a 3-2 setback against NESCAC and in-state rival Connecticut College. While the game on Oct. 28 marked the end of the season, it was the contest four days earlier at Amherst that sealed the Cardinals’ fate, eliminating them from NESCAC tournament contention. This is the second year in a row that the Cardinals have failed to reach the tournament.
After back-to-back 2-1 losses to Williams and Trinity, the Cardinals were hungry for a win over fall break as they prepared to take on Little Three rival Amherst. Despite a season-high 24 saves by net minder Sara Grundy ’16, the Cardinals were unable to provide their defense any relief and were held to only three shots in a one sided affair that finished 7-0 in favor of the Lord Jeffs. Once the Jeffs started the scoring in the 12th minute of play, they never stopped, and their stifling offense too much for the Cards to handle.
“Amherst really came out on fire on Saturday,” said captain Hannah Plappert ’16. “They had great passing and executed their corners very well.”
The Cardinals put the tough loss behind them as they prepared for the season finale against the Camels of Conn College. The Camels opened the scoring up early as they put a shot past Grundy in the first three minutes of the game, but unlike in the Amherst matchup, the Cardinals responded. Less than 15 minutes later, Lauren Yue ’17 drew the game level with a bullet from the center of the circle. Just minutes before halftime, the Camels created a two-on-one breakaway and capitalized on the opportunity, taking a 2-1 lead into the break. Both teams continued to hold their own as the rain began to pour in the second half.
The tension escalated in the last 10 minutes of play. With the game on the line late in the season, the Cardinals turned to their senior captain Plappert, and she delivered. The Cardinals earned their third penalty corner of the half with eight minutes remaining. Despite the initial play being broken up by the Camels’ defense, Plappert came up shooting after contesting for possession in the circle, and her shot found the back of the net, tying the game at two. While the Cardinals found a bit of new life with Plappert’s goal, in the end they could not prevail. With the final seconds ticking away on the clock, the referees granted the Camels a late corner that would determine the outcome of the game; it was to be either OT or a game winner, as time would expire on the play. The Cardinals took their positions to defend their 143rd corner of the season, but unfortunately they couldn’t succeed in keeping the ball out of the net. As a scramble for the ball broke out in front of Grundy, and the Camels were able to gain control of it and slide it past the Wesleyan goalie, sealing the 3-2 victory.
“It was pretty epic weather, with torrential rain and wind, and I think both teams did as best they could to adapt to the unfortunate conditions,” Plappert said. “We did a good job of clearing the ball out of Conn’s offensive circle, but we needed more aggression both defensively and offensively.”
The loss Wednesday night marked the Cardinals fifth in a row, cementing their season record at 4-11 (2-8 NESCAC). While this final record may not have been what the Cardinals had expected at the beginning of the season, there are a lot of positives the team can take away looking ahead to next year’s campaign. For the first time since 2005, the Cardinals upended Tufts with a 3-2 win at home. Also, Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter earned her 200th victory in her 31st season at Wes when the team shutout Colby 1-0.
“I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we are so thankful to have the opportunity to play field hockey at Wes with a team we love,” Plappert said. “This season was really fun, and it’s very sad to see it end.”
The Cardinals will have some big shoes to fill next season as they lose Plappert, Grundy, captain Caitlin Majewski ’16, and captain Michaela Celella ’16 to graduation. Plappert, a two time co-captain, led the Cards with eight goals and five assists, totaling 21 points this season. Grundy, who was 12 saves short of tying the Wesleyan all-time saves record in a single season, led the NESCAC with 151 saves and was fourth in save percentage with .791.
“The team is going to be great next year,” Plappert said. “There is a lot of talent on our team, and this year everyone really developed their skills nicely. I can’t wait to come back to cheer everyone on.”