Now owners of its longest winning steak since 1991, the women’s field hockey team is playing with confidence, poise and determination.
Behind goals from Mandi Ruth and Mary Catherine Kinneman and another shutout
from goalkeeper Erin Hanshue, the Owls downed Longwood, 2-0, Sunday at Geasey Field for the team’s sixth straight win.
The Owls improved to 9-3 overall while notching their fourth shutout of the season. They have held opponents to two goals or less in 16 consecutive games, dating back to Oct. 16 of last season.
After a sluggish first half which left both teams scoreless, the Owls wasted little time in the second half in putting a goal on the board. Ruth scored the game’s first goal just 2:01 into the second half off a corner, thanks to a pass from teammate Leanne Vogelsong. It was Ruth’s team-leading sixth goal of the season and Vogelsong’s first assist.
“It popped off the goalie’s pad and off her stick,” Ruth said. “Then I just put it into the far post.” But perhaps Kinneman provided the game’s most thrilling moment. With the score still 1-0 and the Lancers desperate to even the count, the sophomore took matters into her own hands.
Dipping around defenders with crafty stick work and foot work, she single-handedly gave the Owls the insurance they had been searching for since Ruth’s early second-half goal. In the process, she also notched her second goal of the season.
“It was a crossball into the circle, the forward tipped it into me,” Kinneman explained. “I don’t know, I just kept going.”
Despite what looked to be a fairly easy win for the Owls, the first half was anything but simple. Longwood’s scoring chances more than doubled that of the Owls, as it took the team more than 20 minutes to finally get a shot on goal.
However, coach Amanda Janney said she made the necessary adjustments during halftime and the Owls came out firing in the second half. “I told them to pass quicker, that they were holding onto the ball too long,” she said. “The team picked themselves up.
They knew we weren’t playing our game.” As the Owls struggled to create scoring opportunities, Hanshue’s goalkeeping kept the Owls in game in the first half. With an array of spectacular saves and her vocal leadership growing by the game, senior captain Megan Hannohoe said Hanshue sets the tone for the team.
“The defense is comfortable with each other,” said Hannahoe, a defender. “The goal keeper is talkative out there, she is the leader. We listen to her.”
As the Owls prepare for a road game with Massachusetts Friday, and what they hope will be their seventh win in a row, Mandi Ruth looked at where her team is now, and how far they’ve come as a group.
“We’re no longer the underdogs,” she said. “Everybody is really stepping up their games.”
When Janney was asked if this is the best the team has played in her two seasons at the helm, the coach said, “It’s hard to say, with the different styles and all. But we’re playing great right now.”
They Owls return home Oct. 20, when they host Richmond for their first Atlantic Ten Conference home game of the season.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.