As the regular season concluded Saturday, the field hockey team found itself in a familiar position.
Having reached the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament in each of the last three seasons, the Owls understand what postseason play will be like this weekend at the A-10 tournament.
However, the tournament has provided its share of heartbreaks, as the Owls have had trouble winning the big one.
This time around, though, the program is showcasing its best record since 1991 – at 13-6 – leaving players and coaches optimistic about their team’s chances heading to Richmond this weekend.
“I think it’s very possible,” that we could win the tournament, said sophomore
forward Liz Watto.
“I think if we play the way we have been playing all season we can do it.”
To do so, the Owls will have to get by a first-round match against No. 17 Richmond, the tournament host which has won the last four conference titles and has gone undefeated in the A-10 in that span.
The Owls’ 2-1 overtime loss to Saint Joseph’s Saturday left them with the fourth seed in the four-team tournament, behind the second-seeded Hawks and third-seeded Rhode Island. The Owls have lost each of their games against these teams, with two of the defeats coming in overtime.
Coach Amanda Janney said her team has played a high level of hockey, but has simply received some bad breaks in those conference losses. The last time the Owls faced Richmond, they blew a 1-0 lead with eight seconds remaining and lost 2-1 in overtime at Geasey Field.
Janney said no major changes will need to be made in preparation for the A-10 tournament game.
“The game plan will be the same – just execute a little better on attack,” Janney said. “Our defense played great that day, we just need to execute better up front a little more.”
The Owls will depend on strong goaltending
from sophomore Erin Hanshue, who has been the backbone of the team, according to Janney. Hanshue has started every game in net for the Owls and boasts a 1.09 goals against average, which includes six shutouts.
“It’s been our defense and our goalie,” coach Amanda Janney said. “Our team defense has kept us in all the games. We’re usually so good at defense it allows us so many opportunities up front, because our attack really starts in our backfield.”
Offensively, junior co-captain Ali Lokey will lead Owls into the postseason. She has amassed 24 points on 10 goals and four assists this year.
Another major weapon will be freshman forward Mandi Ruth, who made her mark by contributing six goals and two assists this season. Hanshue said she has high hopes and aspirations heading into this weekend.
She said she doesn’t feel that the recent loss against the Hawks will hinder the team’s chances the slightest bit.
“I think they are very good,” Hanshue said. “[But] I think we’ve proved ourselves against a lot of good teams this year.”
The Owls face the Spiders at 11 a.m. Friday
at Richmond’s Crenshaw Field.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at email@example.com.