Volume 97 Issue 3 Sports

Field hockey builds on past success, aims high for postseason

by Alyssa Fasolo

The field hockey team is looking to have continued success this season as it moves into the conference playoffs.   After a double overtime win to claim the conference championship last season, the athletes and head coach Caroline Gillich are shooting for even more postseason victories this year.

When asked what her goals for this year’s team are, Gillich said, “To reach their full potential.  You never know what that’s going to quite be.  With seven seniors, you’d hope it could be pretty far, so certainly making a return to the conference tournament and getting a chance to maybe win two championships in a row.  Those would be probably two of our top goals.  It’s the first things you kind of have to do to make it any further than that.”

The players agree that reaching their full potential is an important goal for this season, and many of the athletes hope to improve upon last season’s performance.

“Another goal is not just the Landmark championship, but also going further in the NCAA than we did last year.  We made it to the Sweet 16.  I think only one, maybe two, teams have made it to the Elite 8, so hopefully we can go that far again this year,” senior forward Allison Groft said.

The team is on track to reaching these goals.  With an overall record of 11-5 and a conference play record of 6-1, the team has secured a spot in the conference tournament.

“In the conference we’ve only had one loss so far, so I feel like that just shows how hard we’ve been working this season, and hopefully we can continue to win,” junior defensive player Elise Onjack said.

The team began its season with a 3-1 loss at Alvernia on Sep. 2.  It then came back and defeated Bridgewater at home 4-2 on Sep. 4.  The team then lost three straight games on Sep. 9, 13 and 16 by scores of 3-2, 4-0 and 3-2 to Lebanon Valley, the College of New Jersey and Messiah.

The Eagles came back, however, and won nine of their next ten games.  They defeated Delaware Valley 2-1 on Sep. 19, DeSales 6-1 on Sep. 23 and Drew 10-0 on Sep. 26.  On Oct. 2, the team beat Scranton 2-1 in overtime.  The team then went on to defeat Washington and Jefferson 2-0 on Oct. 3 for Juniata’s Homecoming game.  The Eagles beat Susquehanna at home 3-0 on Oct. 14.

The team picked up its only conference loss when it was defeated 2-0 at Elizabethtown on Oct. 17.  It came back, however, and beat Moravian 5-0 on Oct. 20, Goucher 4-3 on Oct. 24 and York 4-2 on Oct. 27.  The Eagles defeated Catholic on Oct. 31 by a score of 2-1 in overtime to finish off the regular season.

Gillich hopes that the athletes are able to take what they learned in last year’s conference championship and have similar success this postseason.

“It’s certainly been a reminder for us that you can do what everybody else would think of as the impossible,” Gillich said.  “There is no winning and there’s no losing.  There’s either won or lost.  Because you just never know- at any moment when the tide could turn.  To me there’s just no winning or losing.  Something’s going to happen at the end.  There will be an end, and it will be decided.  And until that point, you always have a chance, and so it’s so cool for this team to take that experience forward.”

For the players, much of this season has been about building on last year’s success and gaining valuable experience.  One of the biggest changes the team had to make this year was adjusting to having only freshman goalies.

“We lost our two senior goalies last year, so that’s been a big change having freshmen as goalies, but they’re doing a really good job and stepping up and getting better every day, so it’s good,” sophomore forward and midfielder Katie Alexander said.

In addition, the team has had to adjust to several position changes to adapt to injuries and other challenges throughout the season.

“A lot of girls are playing different positions.  I know last year I played midfield and now I play defense, Allie played midfield and now (she) plays forward, so it was just a lot of moving around, but everyone’s doing really well with it no matter where they are,” Onjack said.

Gillich feels that the team’s depth is one of its greatest strengths and that seeing her athletes making the most of opportunities has been a rewarding experience.

“We are deep enough to handle things and still be successful,” Gillich said.  “That’s important for us to just know.  We can do this because we are not that team that doesn’t have enough.  We have enough.  And good news is, you’re all needed.  And you just never know, again, when your opportunity might come.  And we’ve seen kids this year make the most of their opportunities.”

Many of the players are looking forward to not only having a successful postseason, but also playing to what they believe is one of their greatest strengths: working together.

“We’re a team,” freshman goalie Kylie Edwards said.  “So being a team and keeping everybody positive and looking forward to the things we know we need to get done is I think what’s going to help us through the rest of the season and hopefully into the post season and so on.” 

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