At the end of a seven-game away stint, UR’s field hockey team was faced with a tough finish to the streak. While the ‘Jackets defeated their competitors in two games over fall break, they then had to go up against two Liberty League opponents who took two games over the weekend. Despite these hard losses, the Yellowjackets bounced back in their return home, defeating Ithaca College, 4-1.

During fall break, UR shut out both Washington ‘ Jefferson College and Ohio Wesleyan University, 3-0 and 4-0, respectively.

‘Our goalkeeper, [junior] Dani Pearson, has come on very strong in the past few games and made critical plays for us and continues to improve every day,” head coach Wendy Andreatta said.

In these two games, Pearson made a total of nine saves, playing all 70 minutes of each game. But it wasn’t just the defense that gave the ‘Jackets these wins. The offense racked up seven points in the two games.

‘Recently, I feel we have been dominating a lot of our games,” senior midfielder Erica Gelb said. ‘The offense has been doing a great job taking the ball down the field and the defense has been finding good options off of free hits.”

Gelb has been one of these key contributors in recent games. In the game against Washington ‘ Jefferson, her penalty corner assisted junior midfielder Christi Bottcher for the second goal of the game, and, in the game against Ohio Wesleyan, Gelb assisted another goal by Bottcher and scored one, as well.

Also against Washington ‘ Jefferson, freshman forward Allison Beardsley and junior forward Lara Bucarey scored an unassisted goal each. Against Ohio Wesleyan, junior forward Kyra Pinsky and freshman forward Anna Dobrzynski each scored an unassisted goal. The fact that goals came from so many different players highlights the team’s versatility, which Andreatta says is one of the team’s best attributes.

‘The team’s greatest strength is our depth,” she said. ‘We have talented players in every position and we have a very strong group of players who come off the bench and create energy and opportunities for us.”

Gelb added that, to go along with the team’s depth, the Yellowjackets can very easily fluctuate between postions.

‘[Our team’s defining characteristic is that we’re] flexible, because we have a lot of different players changing positions from game to game, from defense to midfield and midfield to forward, right side to left, and everyone is doing a great job adapting to these positional changes,” Gelb said.

The Yellowjackets were hoping to carry that streak of success into Liberty League Play this past weekend, knowing that they were up against a challenge.

‘The Liberty League is one of the premier conferences in Division III field hockey and we are excited at the challenge of becoming a serious contender for postseason play in future years,” Andreatta said. ‘Every game is intense and meaningful.”

This proved to be true in both the game against Skidmore College on Friday and the game against Union College on Saturday each game was decided by just one goal. Skidmore, who is currently tied for first in the Liberty League, jumped to an early lead, scoring a goal just 19 minutes in the game. In the second half, the Thoroughbreds scored another to extend the lead to 2-0. With a little over 10 minutes left in the game, Beardsley attempted to bring the ‘Jackets into the game by making the score 2-1, but they were ultimately unable to finish the comeback. Despite letting two goals into the back of the net, Pearson still made 18 saves, allowing the Yellowjackets to stay into the game.

At Union, it was UR who first took the lead. Near the end of the first half, Gelb set up a penalty corner for Bottcher for the third time in four games. However, the Dutchwomen responded quickly, tying the score just a little over two minutes later. Gameplay remained tight throughout the second half, but a Union goal with a little under 15 minutes left put the team ahead permanently, 2-1.

‘We are working on playing the entire game with the same intensity as we do the last 15 minutes, when we go “all out,'” Gelb said. ‘This really showed in our last game against Union when we played 100 percent for the entire 70 minutes.”

Andreatta commented that the fact that the past two games were close shows the improvement the team has made in recent years.

‘This year, three of our conference games were decided by one goal, and we have learned a great deal from these games,” she said. ‘We have learned that we can compete at a very high level and dominate games.”

Last night, UR earned its 10th win, routing Ithaca, 4-1. Beardsley, Bottcher, Pinsky and Gelb all contributed goals.

The Yellowjackets are now heading into the final stages of the season with only five games remaining, two of which are conference games.

‘Our goals for finishing out the season are to build upon the foundation we have been working to establish strong aggressive play with steady, composed defense in our circle and finishing our attacking plays with corners and goals,” Andreatta said. ‘We have great confidence in our team and we have a solid game plan in place for our next five contests.”

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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