Field hockey upends fourth-ranked Messiah College

BY JONATHAN PRESSMAN ’14
Copy Editor

For the F&M field hockey team, winning has become second nature. After Thursday’s 1-0 victory over fourth-nationally-ranked Messiah College, the Diplomats appear imperturbable, taking care of business time and again this season.

Following its win over Messiah, the Dips had no problem handling conference competitor Bryn Mawr College, shutting out the Owls 3-0.

F&M has now extended its win streak to eight, and holds an 8-1 overall record, including 4-0 in Centennial Conference action.

During Thursday’s game, the Diplomats slipped past the Falcons, recording yet another shutout in a stellar F&M defensive effort. The lone goal came late in the second half, as Kristen Zublin ’13 found the back of the net off a deflected shot from Steph McDonald ’13.

McDonald, who is one of the team captains, has delivered a goal or an assist in nearly every game this season, and is the backbone of F&M’s defense. McDonald also has something essential to being a good captain: determination. Against two equally matched teams, only one can emerge victorious, and the deciding factor is always the desire to earn the win.

“Thursday’s game against Messiah was an exciting opportunity for us to compete with another high-level team,” McDonald said. “We were well prepared to play against them. The team that was diligent on the little things would come out with the win. Ultimately, we wanted it more than Messiah. Our attack worked extremely hard to cause corners, including the one that we scored off of. The defense was disciplined in marking and did not allow any corners in the first half. As defenders, we have a great system of communication that allows us to be successful in keeping a team out of our circle. It was such an amazing experience for us. Beating Hopkins is what we are focused on right now.”

But perhaps most remarkably is not the winning, but how the Diplomats win. In its nine games, F&M has outscored its opponents 30-7, allowing an average of less than one goal per game. This statistic has proven a testament to the outstanding defensive showing the Dips have put up this season.

All of the women on the team agree they work hard together, win together, lose together, and at the end of the day, go home as a family.

In addition to the harmonious unity of the team off the field, every member of the team, whether a starter or the last off the bench, seem to operate with the rest of the players as if they had been practicing together for a lifetime.

Saturday’s game against Bryn Mawr served as the perfect example of F&M’s versatility and unity, as Avery Koep ’14, starting goalkeeper, sat only her second game of the season. With seeming ease Allie Morey ’15, backup goalie, assumed the role of defending the net, denying four shots to complete the shutout and earn her second victory of the season in goal.

“Our team is really inspiring,” Morey said. “It’s not everyday that you get a team that has a second and third line that can compete with its first line. We are so close and have such amazing team chemistry, that it’s hard to notice when someone gets subbed into a game. I love the sport and enjoy the high level that our team plays at. When I step in, it’s a smooth transition. The defense is such a strong and vocal unit. I love strokes and corners, and all the shots today [Saturday] came from those so that was exciting. This team has unlimited potential and I’m excited to see what the season has in store for us. On the field or on the sidelines, this is the best team anyone could be on.”

F&M possesses all of the necessary traits of a championship team. And we’re not just talking about the Centennial Conference Championship. Yes, the Centennial Conference title is certainly on the agenda, but the Dips are shooting for national honors, and have proven themselves worthy contenders for the highest level of competition. Last year, F&M fell to Middlebury College in the second round of the tournament. This year, the team is more experienced—more determined.

With eight games left in the season, F&M will look to build on the immense success of its current season. Next Saturday, the Diplomats will travel to Haverford College, where another battle of two top-ten nationally ranked teams will take place. The Fords, whose only loss came courtesy of Messiah, will look to defend their home turf against the Dips, and both teams will be fighting for reign over the Centennial Conference.

Questions? Email Jonathan at jpressma@fandm.edu.

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