After returning to campus a few weeks before the start of the school year and grinding through two practices a day, the field hockey season is finally underway. To start the season, the Cardinals spent the weekend in Wellesley, Mass. where they first took on Babson College on Friday. The team then returned on Sunday to face ninth-ranked Wellesley College. Unfortunately, a 5-1 loss to the Beavers and a 2-0 loss to the Wellesley Blue was not the start to the 2016 season that the Cardinals had envisioned. Dating back to last season, the Cardinals have now gone seven consecutive games without a win.

Despite only being awarded one penalty corner against a stingy Beavers team that had already played three regular season matches entering Friday’s contest, the Cardinals held their own and headed into halftime with the score still knotted at 0-0. Both teams came out firing at the start of the second half, and after less than two minutes of play, the Beavers found the back of the net. The Beavers’ lead did not last long, however, as Cici Frattasio ’18 answered for the Cardinals by scoring the first goal of the season and evening the score at 1-1. Unfortunately, Babson’s offense proved too much for the Cards to handle as the second half unfolded. The Beavers attacked in the Cardinals’ end of the field continuously, leading to six second-half penalty corners, 10 shots, and a total of five goals. Babson’s relentless attack and stingy defense, which held the Cards scoreless for the rest of the half, ended in the Beavers notching a 5-1 victory.

Next up for the Cardinals was ninth-ranked Wellesley, a team the Cards had not beaten in their previous four meetings. Similar to the Babson game, the Cardinals were forced to play defense for much of the 70 minutes, and a relentless offensive attack by Wellesley led to 17 penalty corners and a total of 29 shots. Despite this offensive barrage, the Blue were only able to break through twice.

“We played strong defense in both games, but ultimately the offensive pressure from both Babson and Wellesley was too much to hold off,” Captain Emily Hart ’17 said.

As Hart points out, the Cardinals did not play poorly on defense and boasted very good showings from their two goalies. First-year Delaney Wood ’20 was given the start in net over senior Claire Edelman ’17, who started in the game against Wellesley for the Cards. Both goalies saw plenty of action. Wood faced 11 shots on goal and saved 6, while Edelman saved 10 of the 12 shots that came her way. Who will start in net for the Cardinals in the future will be a difficult decision to make for the coaching staff.

“I suspect Claire will continue to start in the future, but that is up to the coaching staff,” Hart said. “Both players are incredible goalies and we are lucky to have them.”

The Cardinals do not seem to need to make any major adjustments on defense. Rather, they need to focus on getting the ball out of the defensive zone and onto the sticks of the forwards in order to generate some offense. Although the Cardinals are shooting .500, they have only taken two shots over the first two games of this young season.

“The team is playing with great intensity, and individually each line of players is doing well,” Hart said. “In the future, we need to work on connecting the lines of defense, midfielders, and attack.”

Over the next few days, the Cardinals intend to use their practice time to improve these areas of their game before taking on Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

“We are going to focus on connecting our passes and goal circle entry, as well as faster shots from the top of the circle,” Hart said.

The Cardinals believe this well help them create more opportunities on the offensive end. While no team can be taken lightly, the Cards are 8-0 against Eastern Conn and look to remain undefeated against the Warriors. They will need to get off more shots in order to be competitive, while continuing to hold strong at the defensive end. Claiming their first win of the season would be a huge momentum and confidence builder for the Cardinals, especially right before their home opener against defending NESCAC champions Bowdoin on Saturday, Sep. 17 at noon.

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