In a span of five days, UR Field Hockey went from a Liberty League victory to a nail-biting NCAA DIII tournament loss to Denison College.
The ‘Jackets went 14–9 during the regular season but returned strong in the Liberty League tournament to defeat former champions Vassar College 1–0.
Sophomore midfielder Juney Lee said“it felt rewarding” to have a win against Vassar College “because all of our training and hard work paid off when we accomplished one of our main goals” of winning the Liberty League.
The ‘Jackets have had a spree of success in field hockey, competing in five consecutive NCAA tournaments. Last year, the ‘Jackets made it all the way to the Elite 8 where they lost to Rowan University 4–0. The ‘Jackets had high hopes of surpassing their Elite 8 exit and reaching the elusive Final Four, but a blisteringly cold midday battle at Fauver Stadium saw these goals come crashing down.
The mix of the 3 p.m. start on Wednesday, the sub-20 degree climate, and the $3 student cover charge resulted in a low fan attendance despite the game’s high stakes. A handful of parents, fellow varsity sports players, and student sport-enthusiasts made up the ranks of the UR fan base. Denison College travelled in numbers from Granville, OH as a pack of field hockey parents, bearing a stop sign and a flag displaying the school’s crest, sat on the snow-covered stands.
From the beginning, it was clear it was going to be a tightly contested match. Denison was the first to draw blood by scoring in the 12th minute on a penalty corner. The ‘Jackets came swarming back in the second quarter with a penalty corner of their own. Put into play by Lee, senior midfielder Colleen Maillie’s shot went flying off the left post and out of bounds. The rest of the second quarter was filled with strong midfield play by both teams but a lack of end results.
The third quarter of play resulted in ups and downs for the ‘Jackets. Maillie let loose a rocket of a shot from outside the circle that ended up in the back of the cage but was disallowed because no UR player was able to get a tip on the ball. Soon after, Denison came back down to the field and scored off of a well-executed corner making it a 2–0 deficit for the ‘Jackets.
While the Denison parents cheered for their daughters, Rochester fans yelled words of encouragement to the players like. “Lots of field hockey left to play,” and “Here we go, you ‘Jackets!” . Banter between both fan sections also grew as the game continued. Chirps of “What’s your acceptance rate?” and “Do you even have a med school?” could be heard.
With the strong support from the stands, the ‘Jackets brought one back as senior midfielder Maya Haigis scored off an assist by Lee. With 12 minutes remaining, the intensity of the game picked up as the ‘Jackets gave it everything they had. In the dying minutes of the match, UR was awarded two penalty corners but was unable to convert either as time expired.
Despite the loss, the ‘Jackets had a successful season, winning their conference and making it to the NCAA tournament. On top of the team’s overall success, Haigis, Maillie, and sophomore forward Amanda Strenk all received first team Liberty League recognition. Honorable mentions were also awarded to senior goalkeeper Kate Kujawa and first-year defender Elisabeth Sidorski.