Despite a 1–0 loss to Vassar College in the Liberty League Championships, Women’s Field Hockey secured an at-large berth in the NCAA Championship.
The ‘Jackets have a first-round bye, and will face either Franklin and Marshall College or Gwynedd-Mercy University on Nov. 10.
“From here on out, we have a do-or-die mentality,” junior midfielder Maya Haigis said. “We all understand that each game could be our last and it is essential that we put 110 percent effort into every play. We are very fortunate to have been given a spot in the NCAA tournament and I know that we will not take this opportunity for granted.”
The ‘Jackets traveled to Poughkeepsie to face Vassar Nov. 3 for the Liberty League title.
In the first half, possession was pretty even, and both team had chances. For most of the start of the game, neither team generated much offense, but near the end of the half, the ‘Jackets had some chances, all of which were blocked.
In the second half, Vassar commanded the game. In the first seven minutes of the half, Vassar recorded four shots on net, while the ‘Jackets failed to create any offensive chances.
In the 51st minute, a good shot by Vassar was stopped and cleared by the ‘Jackets. However, on the ensuing corner, Vassar beat out junior goalie Kate Kujawa to score.
In the 58th minute, the ‘Jackets got two shots off a corner, but both were saved by Vassar defenders. Neither team was able to get great scoring chances for the remainder of the game, and Vassar ended on top, 1–0.
“Vassar is a very well respected team and that game could’ve gone either way in my opinion,” Kujawa said. “I am so proud of my defense though. Our three back defenders are all graduating this year and I am going to miss them so much. They all played with so much heart and strength and I think our seniors in general are going to lead us through the NCAA tournament. The seniors are the true leaders on this team and they pick the team up when we are at our lowest of lows.”
Prior to the loss to Vassar, the ‘Jackets hosted 8–10 Skidmore on Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the Liberty League Semifinals.
Less than two minutes in, the ‘Jackets got the first penalty corner of the game. The play resulted in a strong shot from senior defender Courtney Dunham, but it was saved by the Skidmore goalie.
Five minutes later, the ‘Jackets were awarded another penalty corner, which resulted in a goal by senior attacker Nancy Bansbach off her own rebound.
In the 24th and 25th minute, the ‘Jackets had four consecutive corners but did not come up with a goal. The ‘Jackets dominated the first half, outshooting Skidmore 8–2, and they ended the half up 1–0 in scoring.
In the second half, the teams shared control offensively. After a missed opportunity by the ‘Jackets, Skidmore sent the ball far into ‘Jackets territory. A Skidmore attacker stole the ball from the defenders and tied the game up at one.
In the 59th minute, Haigis stole the ball from Skidmore, resulting in a corner. On the ensuing play, first-year attacker Amanda Strenk pushed in a pass from junior midfielder Colleen Maillie. The ‘Jackets retained the lead and won 2–1.
“Scoring the game-winner in the Liberty League semifinals was a very gratifying experience,” Strenk said. “It was a major team effort and it could not have happened without everyone playing the way they did.
The ‘Jackets now have an 18–2 record, and are currently the 13th ranked team according to a Fieldhockeycorner.com poll.
“I would love it if our team made it to the Final Four and I still believe we can”, Kujawa said. “Our team is so deep with talent and I think losing the Liberty League title will spark a fire in us to win the NCAA title.”