Field hockey avenges last year’s championship loss

BY JONATHAN PRESSMAN ’14
Copy Editor

After being edged in last year’s Centennial Conference Championship game by Ursinus College, the members of the F&M women’s field hockey team provided themselves with some consolation this Saturday, downing the Bears 3-0 here in Lancaster.

The Diplomats entered the game with a fiery vengeance, scoring all three goals within an 11-minute time frame that came during the first half.

Going into the game, F&M was confident and had been patiently waiting for this moment for this rematch for quite some time.

“I knew there was an unspoken pressure we placed on ourselves to win this game, but ultimately I knew we were the better team,” said captain Stephanie McDonald ’13. “Coach always has an excellent pre-game talk that gets us fired up.”

With the win, F&M moves to 6-1 overall, boasting a 3-0-conference record, a national ranking of eight, and a win streak of six.

All the pieces were in place for the Dips in this flawless performance, and the women truly looked like a championship squad as they upended the Bears with apparent ease.

“We were really excited and pumped to play another conference game on our home turf,” said Kristen Zublin ’13. “We also had two solid practices with a lot of intensity coming into Saturday’s game, which felt good.”

Zublin recorded one assist in the game, her first of the season, and, though she is accustomed to scoring, contributed to the victory nonetheless.

McDonald also tallied an assist in the well-balanced scoring effort, featuring goals from Dana Venditti ’13, Katie Cecere ’14 and Meghan Barlow ’14.

Avery Koep ’14 turned away four shots on goal en route to the shutout, her second of the season.

Prior to the game, F&M spent a great deal of time preparing, scrimmaging against one of the best teams in the country: themselves.

“Every day we are lucky to scrimmage against ourselves because we have one of the best teams to play against every night,” McDonald said. “Coach lets us know what the other team’s tendencies are, and we work to eliminate them. For U.C [Ursinus College], we knew we just had to play our game, be calm, and have fun together.”

The sweetness of victory was, and is undoubtedly still being, tasted by each and every member of the team, but they know that this is just one game of many that they need to win if they want a shot at the national title.

“As a team, we want to continue to play a high level of hockey,” McDonald said. “We like to take the season one game at a time. We do this so we have all our energy focused towards beating the next team on our schedule. For us right now we are working on beating Messiah on Thursday night.”

Come Thursday, the Dips will certainly have their hands full, when the fourth nationally ranked Messiah visits Tylus Field.

The Falcons and Diplomats are both 6-1 overall, and the only Falcons loss came courtesy of second-ranked Salisbury University.

In Saturday’s game, F&M seemed almost unable to make a mistake, and everything they had practiced was executed perfectly.

“Our coaching staff had worked on a few new corner plays for us to try out against Ursinus, and they will definitely be useful in the rest of the season,” said McDonald. “There was not one central player that worked as a catalyst on their team, so we played solid, patient defense and we were relentless on the attack. We just had to play together and it all would work out in our favor.”

Zublin also commented on the corner execution practiced and proudly noted that all three goals against Ursinus came off of corners.

As for the rest of the season, the Diplomats will simply continue doing what they have been doing, working hard and having fun. Winning, however nice, is just a bonus. Taking each game one at a time is key for F&M and allows their focal point to remain in the present.

Yesterday was the quintessential display of everything the Diplomats have been working on, and the result weighed heavily in their favor.

“The most exciting part of any win is right after the game,” McDonald said. “As a defender, it’s always great to shut out a team, but yesterday was amazing because of how well everyone played. We just relaxed and had more fun than they did. I think our team chemistry is such an important part of why we work so well together. Our team is filled with so much passion for the game and winning that we know we have the ability to beat any team.”

Come Thursday, F&M will face what may very well be its toughest competitor of the season. Though the game is simply an exhibition, it will serve as a preview for the postseason and the kinds of teams that you may meet in the NCAA Championship Bracket.

F&M will look to climb in the national rankings and would love some support through its journey. Game time is set for 7 p.m. this Thursday at home and promises to be a battle worthy of attendance by one and all.

Questions? Email Jonathan at jpressma@fandm.edu.

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