After dropping its third game of the season on Friday to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, it took the women’s field hockey team only 14 minutes to get back on track against the Brewers of Vassar College the next day.

Junior defender Christi Bottcher brought the ball into the Brewers’ arc and rocketed a shot past Vassar goalie Taylor Herman to put UR on top 1-0 the first goal of five as UR beat out Vassar, 5-2. It was Bottcher’s seventh goal of the season and a good sign for the ‘Jackets, who struggled to find offense in their first Liberty League game against RPI the previous day.

The weekend’s outcomes were testaments to how potent the ‘Jacket offense can be and also to the quality of the RPI team.

Against Vassar, UR’s strikers were solid and had little trouble finding the back of the goal. After Bottcher netted the early score, junior forward Lara Bucarey added to the ‘Jackets’ lead less than three minutes later with a shot through the middle of the crease that found the left side of the goal.

Bucarey logged her second goal of the game in the opening minutes of the second period, when she received a pass from Bottcher at the top of the arc and put the ball past Herman.
Bucarey later assisted on another ‘Jacket goal and was named Liberty League Performer of the Week for her strong showing. She is currently third on the team in goals with five and tied for second in assists with four.

Freshmen forwards Anna Dobrzynski and Allison Beardsley added insurance goals for UR toward the end of the second half.

Both Beardsley and Dobrzynski have stepped up to the challenge as newcomers on the ‘Jackets’ offensive line. Dobrzynski is currently the team’s leading goal scorer with seven, while Beardsley has four.

UR has beaten Vassar the past three years by similar margins. Last year, the ‘Jackets blew by the Brewers, 6-1, thanks to two goals by Bucarey.

It was a different story against RPI the day before, however, as the two teams battled in a defensive struggle that was eventually decided by an RPI penalty stroke in the 62nd minute of play. The ‘Jackets held a 12-8 advantage in shots six of those 12 were on goal.

RPI sits alone atop the Liberty League with a 3-0 record in conference and an 8-2 record overall.

Despite the loss, UR showed poise on defense, holding RPI to only three shots in the first period. Only one of those shots was on goal. Senior defenders Erica Gelb and Maeghan Kirsch have been particularly solid on the back line for the Yellowjackets, providing leadership for a UR defense that gives up just 1.4 goals per game.

Last week, Gelb was named Co-Liberty League Performer of the Week for her efforts against Hartwick College and Houghton College.

Gelb is second on the team with four assists.

Sophomore goalie Danielle Pearson has also been strong in goal. She had two stops against RPI and four saves against Vassar.

The weekend’s matches kicked off a seven-game road streak for UR. Yesterday, the women continued on the road, traveling to William Smith College to take on the Herons.
William Smith entered the game tied with the Yellowjackets in the Liberty League and proved to be too strong for the visiting UR squad.

The final score was 2-0 in favor of the Herons, who are ranked 13th in the country according to the most recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.

William Smith moves up in the rankings into a tie for second place with Skidmore College. UR falls to 1-2 in the Liberty League rankings and 7-4 overall.

The ‘Jackets controlled the play for much of the first half against the Herons, but neither team amounted very much pressure offensively.

The Heron’s only shot of the first half paid off, however. William Smith’s Sarah Palmer redirected a shot from the top of the arc by teammate Brittany Furlong. The ball snuck by Pearson and gave William Smith a 1-0 lead going into halftime.

In the second half, UR pressured the Heron defense with five shots and three penalty corners but to no avail.

Bottcher had a great scoring opportunity in the 54th minute, but was turned away by William Smith’s goalie, Katie DeKraker. DeKraker finished with three saves to earn her 42nd career win.

The Herons added an insurance goal 10 minutes into the second period when Kierstin Hamilton put a point-blank shot past Pearson.

Pearson finished the game with just one save.

The ‘Jackets next match is at Skidmore College at 4 p.m. on Friday. Skidmore is 2-1 in league play and 5-3 overall.

After that, UR continues on the road, taking on Union College on Saturday in Schenectady, N.Y. Union is 1-2 in the conference and 6-2 overall.

Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.

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