Neither the frigid weather outside, nor their opponents from the UCAA can cool the scalding hot UR field hockey team. With three shutout victories in a row and seven wins in their last eight games, the Yellowjackets have netted ten wins, their highest total in eight years.
UR used tight defense and a spectacular performance by junior goalkeeper Pamela Sheffield to squeak out a tough 1-0 victory against Ithaca College, who were riding a three game winning streak of their own on Wednesday afternoon at Fauver Stadium.
Ithaca opened the game with a flurry, testing Sheffield with the first four shots of the game. UR’s defense held tight and the game remained scoreless until the Yellowjackets finally broke through at the 21:21 mark. UR was awarded a penalty corner. Freshman Kathryn Harvey swung it out of the corner where junior Jessica Cassavaugh settled it for junior Kaitlin Poeth. Instead of blasting through a sea of legs, Poeth sidestepped a defender’s rush and pushed the ball to a wide-open Harvey, who was eight yards out on the left wing. She whistled a low drive into the center of the cage, under the lunge of Ithaca goalkeeper Nicole Blum.
The contest against SUNY Geneseo last Saturday was just as dramatic as UR survived with a soaking wet 1-0 win. The first half was marked by relenting defensive play as both teams had three shots apiece, but no goals. The second half began much like the first one as the defensive stalemate continued. The turning point of the game unsurprisingly was a defensive play by UR. UR stopped a penalty shot with nearly five minutes remaining, and received their own several minutes later. This time sophomore standout Erin Charnow, sent a low shot past the Geneseo goalie giving UR the lead.
“This one was a soaker. It was pouring down all game, and I mean pouring,” said head coach Michelle Andre. “Geneseo is a grass team, so the advantage was certainly towards the opposition”. UR was fortunate to come away with the victory.
Three pivotal players for UR during their winning streak have been junior back Kelly Melcher, Charnow and freshman sweeper Harvey. “Melcher has really been starting a lot of the attacks. She can defend against any left wing. If they ever manage to get by her, she always gets the ball back,” Andre said. “Everyone has stepped up their game and it’s getting really fun to watch as a coach.”
“Charnow has also been playing exceptionally well. She stops a great deal of attacks from the side, anticipates well off of the ball and comes up with a lot of interceptions. Charnow always gives it 70 minutes. She’s a silent leader, and like most on the team, when she speaks everyone listens,” Andre said.
“Harvey has completely raised the level of her game since the start of the season. She now has confidence in her play, can dribble around opponents efficiently and can generate offense easily. All of these things are commonly difficult to do at her position, and has certainly helped the Yellowjackets this season,” Andre added.
After allowing eight goals in two UCAA losses in late September ? 5-0 to Vassar College and 3-0 to Union College ? UR has only allowed eight goals in the last nine games. The only two teams to score more than one goal during that span have been William Smith and Skidmore, who are ranked in the top 20 nationally. UR held Skidmore to only three goals when the Thoroughbreds were fifth nationally and dominating the UCAA with an average of seven goals per game.
Berkowitz can be reachedat email@example.com.