It took just 54 seconds for the UR women’s field hockey team to bust open the scoring floodgates against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday.
Senior midfielder Amanda Case deflected a shot by sophomore forward Allison Beardsley off a penalty corner past Rensselaer goalie Sarah Burcher a goal that set the tone in a 7-5 win over the visiting Engineers, pushing the Yellowjackets’ winning streak to three.
‘The team is feeling great with our winning streak,” senior forward Christi Bottcher said. ‘We’re determined to keep working hard for these wins.”
Bottcher fueled the offensive spark throughout the match, notching a hat trick, including the last two goals of the game to secure UR’s victory. The senior earned Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week honors for the strong showing.
The ‘Jackets jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the first half thanks to a balanced offensive attack against the Engineers. Four different players notched goals, including sophomore defender Shayna McKie, who put in two before 35 minutes were up.
Something slipped in the beginning of second, however. Rensselaer has closed the first half with a score, then came back to tie the score, rattling off three more goals so that, with 10 minutes left, the game was knotted at five.
But then Bottcher took over, rocketing a shot off of a penalty corner past Burcher with eight minutes remaining, then giving the ‘Jackets an insurance tally with another score off of a corner.
Seven goals are the most UR has scored all season. But it hasn’t been for lack of offensive pressure. In a win over Elmira College last Tuesday, the ‘Jackets tallied 51 shots, but only five goals. In a victory over Vassar College on Friday, UR had 25 shots, but two scores.
‘On Saturday, we knew we really had to work on our penalty corner execution, and we did execute our penalty corners well,” Bottcher said. ‘Also, I feel the Vassar goalkeeper had a great game against us on Friday and did not give up goals easily. Those things combined really made the difference, as well as our general decision-making in the offensive circle.”
And when the offense wasn’t able to finish this season, the defense has generally hung tough. In the Vassar game, UR didn’t allow the visiting team a shot until the 69th minute of play, and going into the game against Rensselaer on Saturday, UR hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a game in four matchups.
This included a 2-1 last-minute win on Sept. 30 over William Smith College, who was ranked No. 18 according to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll going into the match.
Against Rensselaer, senior Danielle Pearson had eight saves to preserve the win, but it was the ‘Jacket offense that stole the show, succeeding in an area they’ve struggled with before.
‘This season, we have had a rough time finishing in the offensive circle,” Bottcher said. ‘We dominate the game, but have trouble putting the ball in the net.”
There was no sign of that on Saturday. With the victory, UR is up one spot to fourth in the Liberty League with a 3-2 record and will take momentum into its game this Sunday against Washington ‘ Jefferson College. For Bottcher at least, she has high hopes that her impressive offensive performance against Rensselaer will also carry over.
‘Personally, when I have a good offensive game, I can feel that momentum carry into the next game,” Bottcher said. ‘It also gives me a noticeable confidence boost.”
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.