Nearly halfway through the 2016 season, the field hockey team finds itself on a four-game losing streak with an overall record of 1-6. Over the last four games, two of which were against Top Ten nationally ranked opponents Bowdoin and Tufts, the Cardinals have struggled with offense and have been outscored 17-0. Despite the current losing streak, the team is still steadfast in achieving its goal of making it back to the NESCAC tournament. In order to achieve this goal, the Cardinals will need to rely on their team chemistry and continue to use their full energy on the field.
“I have been impressed with the team dynamic,” captain Lauren Yue ’17 said. “The whole team really seems to be getting along and becoming closer as the season progresses. We support each other on and off the field.”
As of now, the Cardinals rank last in the NESCAC in offense, having only taken 27 shots the entire season and scoring only two goals. To put this in perspective, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Tufts Jumbos took a total of 34 shots in their 6-0 win over the Cards. However, it is through team chemistry that the offense and wins are bound to come. What stands out when watching the Cardinals this season is the apparent difference between their style of play in the first and second halves of games.
“We need to have a bigger sense of urgency and determination,” Yue said. “We need to learn how to control the game from the start, and then work to efficiently score goals throughout the entire 70 minutes.”
With eight games left in the regular season, seven of which are against NESCAC teams, the Cardinals are still very much in the hunt to reach the tournament. Their focus for the month of October is simple: maintain the same intensity on defense and find ways to strengthen offense.
“The focus has been on generating more offense and transitioning the ball from out of our defensive end,” Yue said.
The Cardinals have a great opportunity to gain confidence and get the season back on track this weekend. The Cards will host Hamilton on Saturday, Oct. 1 at noon, followed by Roger Williams University on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. The Roger Williams game will mark Wesleyan’s last out-of-conference matchup of the season. They will spend the remainder of their NESCAC schedule away at Colby, Williams, and Middlebury and home against Trinity, Amherst, and Connecticut College.
Although Hamilton recently defeated the reigning NCAA DIII Champion Middlebury 4-2, the Cards hold a 4-1 advantage in the head-to-head record since the Cardinals and Continentals first met in 2011. Although the Continentals shut out the Cards 3-0 in 2015, the Birds are primed to get back to their winning ways against the Continentals. On Sunday, the Cards will face Roger Williams for only the third time in the program’s history and will look to extend their undefeated record to three straight over the Hawks.
If the Cardinals have any chance of making the NESCAC tournament this season, two wins this weekend is, for all practical purposes, essential. After this weekend, the Cards will have six games left on the schedule, all of which are conference games. While it is a bit too early to say that the Cards control their own destiny, wins against their upcoming NESCAC foes can only help the Cardinals achieve their goal and more importantly, send a message to the rest of the NESCAC that they are not a team to be taken lightly.
In order to achieve these goals and get back in the win column, the Cards need to come out this weekend and set the tone from the start of the first whistle. Wesleyan has won only one game, a hard-fought victory against Eastern Connecticut State University. Given the clear difference in play between the first and second halves, they hope to establish a fast-paced, high-energy game early on in the contest. Establishing an offensive presence at the start by taking penalty corners and getting shots off will only help to build the Cardinals’ confidence.
“We need to play hard for the entire 70 minutes,” Yue said. “We need to work hard to not only get penalty corners, but also capitalize on them and score goals.”