Katie Stevenson underwent two minor heart surgeries last year just so she could continue playing field hockey.
“It took a while to get back into game shape,” Stevenson said. “I’m really just getting back into it now.”
The choice has paid off.
The sophomore midfielder scored two game-winning goals over the weekend to help the Owls secure a spot in the Atlantic 10 Championships for the first time in three seasons and her first collegiate goals have earned her The Temple News Athlete of the Week.
Red-shirted her freshman year, Stevenson was limited in playing time last season because of her medical issues. Now, in her first season of substantial playing time, she has become a key member of the team.
Stevenson’s unassisted goal against La Salle last Saturday was her first collegiate goal. She struck again the next day against West Chester four minutes into overtime, to win the game 6-5.
“It was really cool,” she said. “It turned out to be the game-winner and then I got my second goal [Sunday] so it was exciting that it was also a game-winner.”
Stevenson is ecstatic about the team’s play. She believes the major difference from last season is that this year’s team keeps its “personal life” off the field so everyone is more focused on playing.
“This year we have the best chemistry,” Stevenson said. “We’re best friends and work together on the field.”
The defense allowed five goals against West Chester, but the offense answered back with six of their own.
“We pick up after each other,” Stevenson said. “The defense struggled on Sunday so the offense stepped up to win the game.”
Stevenson’s roommate, senior midfielder Haley Dervinis, is excited about Stevenson’s play in the clutch, but she’s not totally surprised.
“She did an awesome job,” Dervinis said. “This week she played center-midfielder and she played hard every minute. She controlled the game.”
Whether on or off the field, Stevenson and Dervinis can be frequently be seen together.
“We are like sisters,” Dervinis said.
Dervinis also mentioned that they don’t talk too much about field hockey around the house. They leave that for the field.
On the field, Stevenson and her teammates have turned it up a notch against conference rivals. The Owls are undefeated (4-0) in the A-10 and 9-7 overall.
Despite being off the field for a year, Stevenson was determined to continue playing through her medical conditions.
Combining patience and persistence, Stevenson has been playing her best field hockey down the stretch when the Owls need it most.
“In the past, my biggest problem was thinking too much,” Stevenson said. “Now, I just go out there and play.”
Charles Peach can be reached at email@example.com.