The field hockey team began its season by splitting its first two games, coming out with a 4-2 victory in the season opener against St. Lawrence University before falling 3-2 in overtime against Utica College. Both games were held at a neutral site in Oneonta.
In their win over St. Lawrence on Saturday, Sept. 2, Hawks third-year forward Serena Capsello scored three goals less than 14 minutes into the game. She became the first Hawk since Kayla McKeveny in 2015 to notch a hat trick. Capsello’s three goals also came within less than four and a half minutes of each other.
“It was an incredible experience to [score three goals in a game],” Capsello said. “The forward line has been working well together and it was exciting to see our hard work paying off on game day. We have been working hard to be relentless in the circle and making the most out of each offensive opportunity.”
Second-year forward Kaitlyn Gunter also scored her first goal of the season, as the team began the 2017 campaign with a victory.
Fourth-year forward Justine O’Reilly assisted two of Capsello’s goals, while fourth-year midfielder Hayley Kim and first-year midfielder Carly Croteau notched one assist each.
Fourth-year goalkeeper Megan Gangewere recorded 12 saves in the game to hold down the defense.
“Ending our first game with a win was very exciting for our team,” Capsello said. “We were working hard in our practices to prepare ourselves for this first challenge. We have players taking on new roles this year and it was exciting to see everything come together.”
The following day, New Paltz lost in heartbreaking fashion to drop to 1-1. Pioneers third-year forward Rylee Meelan scored two goals in the first half, but thanks to a goal from O’Reilly off a helper from Kim, the score stood 2-1 at halftime.
In the second half, Croteau scored the first goal of her collegiate career in a one-on-one situation against Pioneers fourth-year goalkeeper Samantha Whitehouse to tie up the game and ensure overtime.
Gangewere made five stops with the game on the line in overtime, 16 in total on the day, before fourth-year forward Melissa Koch ended the game with a follow up rebound shot that found the back of the cage.
“We did not give up throughout the game and into overtime,” Capsello said. “It was disappointing that we did not come up with the win, but we are using this as a learning experience to push us forward.”
The Hawks, who won four-straight State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) titles from 2012-15, fell short last season when they lost to eventual champion SUNY Geneseo 1-0 in the semifinal round of the SUNYAC Tournament.
“Our goals for this season are to play competitive hockey and develop as the season goes on,” Hawks head coach Shanna Szablinski said. “I obviously want us to be a top contender within the country and win SUNYACs. But understanding that we are going to be a team that works hard and plays throughout our mistakes is going to be critical with that development.”
The team enters the 2017 season with a large group of newcomers that includes nine first years, that will be joined by the nine returners.
“Our freshmen class this year is one of our biggest yet, and I am extremely excited,” third-year midfielder Samantha Ackerman said. “These girls came into preseason with great attitudes and were ready to work and learn from us upperclassmen right away. The freshmen are going to do great this season and I am excited to see them grow as players in the next couple of years. I know and believe that they can be our next four-peat championship team.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Hawks fell to No. 12 Montclair State University 4-2. The score stood at 4-0 at halftime and goals by Ackerman and Croteau cut the deficit in half. Gangewere held the Red Hawks scoreless in the second half, but the comeback fell just short.
The team will continue nonconference play when they host Stockton University on Saturday, Sept. 9 on the North Turf Field at 1 p.m. before playing their first SUNYAC matchup on the road against Morrisville State College on Wednesday, Sept. 13.