After a year off of competitive play, Wesleyan Field Hockey has opened up the season with two wins and two losses. Their record is a testament to the hard work the Cards put in last year, despite not having a formal season.
“COVID-19 definitely limited what we could and couldn’t do at practice,” Diana Schwarz ’23 wrote in a message to The Argus. “For the most part of our 2020 season, we maintained social distance. Given the normal closeness of field hockey, this meant that we resorted to finding other ways of elevating our game. We did a lot of fitness, worked on our individual skills and shots, and after a long wait, we eventually got to scrimmage twice in the 2021 spring.”
Following such a difficult year, the team was elated to get back on the field and show that the work they put in was worth it.
“The return to play has been great,” captain Colleen Carrigan ’22 said. “We were all so excited to return to play but it definitely comes with the moments that feel bizarre that we are getting the opportunity to play again and travel.”
Schwarz echoed Carrigan’s positive sentiment.
“The best part of the season so far has been the ability to play against other teams competitively,” Schwarz wrote. “Everyone seems so excited to be back on the field, and there’s a new sense of appreciation and love for the game post-pandemic.”
This love for the game has clearly motivated Schwarz, who scored the first Wesleyan hat trick since 2012 in the Cardinals’ blowout 7–1 win against Mount Holyoke. The seven goals were semi-historic: the Cards have not had a single game total that high since 2012.
“I had never scored a hat trick in college, but had several times throughout high school,” Schwarz wrote. “It felt great to score one against Mt. Holyoke. I’m glad that it drew more attention to the Wes Field Hockey team as a whole and emphasized how competitive we’re going to be this season!”
The Red and Black seem to be hitting their stride, opening the season with a substantial 6–1 victory over Western New England. The team has only fallen short twice, against No. 1 Middlebury and No. 10 Williams, who beat the Cards by a slim margin.
The return to play has also meant a return to team traditions and building a sense of community within the team.
“We try to do team dinners before games and to try to recall what we did before games and share it all with the underclassmen,” Carrigan said.
Given that most of the veteran players were underclassmen the last time the team took the field, adding new members into the mix has been easy.
“Integrating the freshmen into a team which hasn’t had a normal season since the junior class were freshmen has been smoother than expected,” Schwarz wrote. “Everyone is happy to be back on the field and the team has created a healthy, competitive environment. We all want to showcase what we didn’t get to show in previous seasons; we have this newfound drive to compete and give it our all. The whole team is so supportive and motivated for our team to succeed!”
“I’m completely shocked by how welcoming everybody is,” Helen Deretchin ’25 said. “I’m used to having a senior class that’s very not friendly and they are an authority. Immediately when I got to our first meeting, they were including me at the table.”
Still, transitioning from the high school game to college competition tends to be a challenge.
“The team has a lot of really young talent and we are still working on getting everyone up to the faster pace of collegiate field hockey especially in the NESCAC,” Carrigan said.
Deretchin is optimistic about the future of the team, and described her excitement about future NESCAC matchups.
“If you look at our 2019 record other teams would probably think ‘Oh, this is going to be an easy win,’” Deretchin said. “‘They didn’t have a winning record.’ But with everybody improving their skill and their vision, it’s going to be a rude awakening for our opponents.”
Looking forward, home games against Bowdoin and Trinity on the 25th and 28th respectively should provide the Cards with an opportunity to make up some ground in the ‘CAC.
Erin Byerly can be reached at email@example.com.
John Vernaglia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org