Over the course of a damp and dreary October weekend, the field hockey team went 1-1 and finally found its offensive form. After the Cardinals were unable to get a single shot off against Tufts in a 6-0 loss on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Birds were able to score four goals on 18 shots over the span of two days.
The Cardinals kicked off October play hosting Hamilton on Saturday, Oct. 1. Although the Cards lost Saturday’s game 3-1, marking their fifth consecutive loss, they returned to Smith Field the following day to beat Roger Williams University by the same score of 3-1 and record their second win of the season. There were two standout moments over the pair of weekend games. Most notably was that the Cards finally managed to find the back of the net, scoring four goals over the two-game span. Another positive for the Cardinals was the return of Cici Frattasio ’18 to the starting lineup. Frattasio had been sidelined for nearly three weeks due to a sprained thumb. While she played most of the game against Tufts, Saturday marked her first start since Sept. 11, when the team faced Wellesley College. Frattasio brought a much-needed spark to the offense, and her presence and impact on the game became evident early on. In both games this past weekend, Frattasio pestered the defense with her quick bursts of speed and deft stick skills. She also scored a goal in both games.
“[Frattasio] did a really nice job on that front line just tipping, redirecting, and getting corners for us,” Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter said following Sunday’s win. “She’s like a little bumblebee out there.”
While the return of Frattasio on offense is huge for the Cards, the entire team came out really strong and focused in both games this weekend. During the Tufts game, however, the Cards appeared flatfooted at times. Noticeable changes for the team were better communication, making crisper passes, and working as a cohesive unit.
“I think we connected a lot better than we have in the past,” Captain Lauren Yue ’17 said. “Even though we lost to Hamilton, we did connect a lot better than we did for the Tufts game. We are using each other and trusting each other a lot more.”
Not only were the Cards connecting more, but the team managed to use the entire length of the field to find each other, especially in the offensive half. This effective spacing was particularly evident in the game against the Hawks of Roger Williams.
“We are doing a good job of letting people get into the circle, and we’re not just hitting into the circle when no one is there,” Captain Emily Hart ’17 said. “We are using the corners and the sides of the field to transition the ball.”
Sunday’s win marked the first time this season that the Cardinals have outshot their opponent. The Cards tied a season high with 11 shots while holding Roger Williams to only 3. In fact, the Hawks’ first shot did not come until midway through the second half. While the Cardinals’ defense continued to be lights out, the big difference was how early the Cardinals pressured the ball.
“I am very pleased how we were within their offensive 50, so that was really nice to see,” Klecha-Porter said. “We are really trying to get on our players to pressure higher up and not wanting to get so deep so that you’re not running 75-yard runs; you only need to make 50-yard runs. So if we stop it at the 50-yard line, that helps our forwards get in better position and attack. We did a good job on that.”
While the win was definitely what the Cardinals needed to help them get back on track, both Hart and Yue emphasized the need to continue taking shots.
“Shots, a lot of shots,” Yue said. “Get as many shots as we can. Play clean, and make sure everything is stick to stick.”
Increased shot-taking, strong defense, and clean play are the focal points for practice this week as the Cardinals get ready to take on Colby this Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Mules’ home field in Waterville, Maine at 11 a.m.