Field hockey out-dueled Nazareth and Utica Colleges last week, going 2-0, bringing their record to 4-1. With these two victories, the ‘Jackets currently have a three game winning streak. In addition, UR players earned Liberty League honors for both offense and defense.

On Friday afternoon, the Yellowjackets played a well-fought battle against Utica College, coming out ahead 3-2 in overtime. Senior midfielder Kari Plewniak scored UR’s first goal in the 23rd minute of play – junior defender Erica Gelb, credited with the assist, pushed a penalty corner to Plewniak, who drove the ball past the Utica goalie on the right side and into the cage. UR then lost the lead after giving up goals to the Pioneers in the 27th and 49th minutes of play. The ‘Jackets tied it up with 11 plus minutes left in regulation when sophomore forward Amanda Case scored her fourth goal of the season and UR’s second of the game after tipping in a shot from outside the circle by senior midfielder/defender Alicia Citro. In the fifth minute of sudden death play, UR handed Utica a heartbreaker – Plewniak blasted through the Pioneers defense passing the ball to sophomore forward Lara Bucarey, who beat the goalkeeper for her team-leading fifth goal of the season and the game winner.

Senior goaltender Rachel Cahan made 13 saves in goal and let two get past the goal line. Utica outshot the ‘Jackets 18-10, but UR held a 7-5 advantage on penalty corners. Plewniak led the team in shots with four in the game.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the Yellowjackets shut out the Nazareth College Golden Flyers 3-0. The first half of the game went by without either team scoring after both had opportunities stifled. Cahan made a number of calculated dives to save shots in the half and keep Nazareth at bay.

The ‘Jackets went without penalty corners in the first half, limiting their scoring chances. UR rose to the challenge and made it a point to emphasize play in the corners, breaking through and bearing down on the Flyers in the second half. At almost 48 minutes into play, Bucarey sent UR’s first shot into the goal on a rebound assisted by Plewniak. The ‘Jackets scored their second goal a mere 18 seconds later – Case put one through the woodwork on a rebound in the scramble. Gelb put the finishing touches on the crushing defeat of Nazareth with UR’s third goal – she netted her first goal of the season, assisted by Bucarey after a penalty corner.

UR and Nazareth equaled each other in shots with nine apiece after picking things up in the second half. The same went for penalty corners with each team having five, after the ‘Jackets gained all five of theirs in the second half. Plewniak led the team with five shots on goal. Cahan made eight saves with no goals allowed for the shutout.

Two Yellowjackets earned Liberty League awards for the week of Monday, Sept. 17 for their outstanding play on the pitch.

Cahan was named Liberty League Co-Defensive Performer of the Week. She had her first shutout of the season against Nazareth. She made 21 saves, allowing only two goals in play this past week. Cahan prowled the UR goal for 145:55 – her work in the cage led the Yellowjackets to a 2-0 week.

On the offensive side of things, Bucarey was awarded the title of Liberty League Co-Offensive Performer of the Week. She scored two game-clinching goals and had one assist. She leads the ‘Jackets in scoring with five goals and is third on the team with 14 shots on the opposition. This is the second straight week a Yellowjacket has received Offensive Performer of the Week honors from the league.

The Yellowjackets enter Liberty League play for the season this weekend with games against Hamilton College and St. Lawrence University.

UR Field Hockey is using its experience thus far in the season to its advantage as it embarks on one of its tougher stretches.

“These first five games have taught us a great deal. We are learning how to be consistent and confident and to play our style of hockey. I am very proud of the heart and determination we demonstrated in coming from behind on the road to get the win at Utica,” head coach Wendy Andreatta said. “With our first two Liberty League games coming up this week on the road, it is crucial for us to continue to dig deep and play 70 minutes of strong, consistent hockey.”

UR has strung together three wins going into league play – showing that many facets of their play are starting to come together.

“[The] keys to our success have been improved offensive corner execution, strong goaltending and learning how to anticipate and dictate the play so that we are not simply reacting to what’s happening around us. With many new faces in the lineup, this team has had to learn to play together,” Andreatta said. “Many are starting or getting significant playing time for the first time in their collegiate careers. I am very proud of the way this team has stepped up and taken control of their destiny this season. We are gaining confidence and playing smarter hockey with each passing day.”

“The team as a whole has been generating some really great offensive pressure and we have definitely been able to capitalize on opportunities in the circle,” midfielder Plewniak said. “A three game winning streak is a great thing to have going into our opening league weekend, but we of course cannot look back and be complacent. We really need to take this momentum and build upon it for the upcoming games.”

UR field hockey hits the road this weekend to take on opponents Hamilton College at 4 p.m. on Friday and St. Lawrence University at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Levy is a member of the class of 2008.

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