Field Hockey Claims Third SUNYAC Title

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

The field hockey team has captured their third-straight SUNYAC championship title.

The Hawks, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, defeated SUNY Oneonta 3-2 in the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Then on Saturday, Nov. 8, the team  went on to defeat SUNY Geneseo 4-0 in the SUNYAC finals.

“Geneseo is the kind of team that will fight until the very end,” third-year forward and co-Captain Dani Ackerman said. “When the clock hit zero, the entire team went nuts. There are no words to describe how great it feels to come up with a big win like that.”

In their game against Oneonta, third-year back Jessica Caruana, first-year forward Justine O’Reilly and  second-year forward Kayla McKeveny each contributed a goal. Fourth-year midfielder Deirdre O’Neill and second-year forward Erin Landy added assists in the matchup.

Caruana was named SUNYAC Offensive Player of the Week from her performance in the game

Head Coach Shanna Vitale said she was very proud of her team’s offensive play in this game.

“We were able to get past their goalkeeper who is pretty good,” Vitale said. “It was a total team effort, we are very proud of our accomplishments from the game.”

Next came the Hawk’s semifinals matchup against SUNY Geneseo, who had upset the No. 1 seed SUNY Cortland in the semi-finals. Third-year Hawks goalkeeper Alayna Wageman, who was named SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Week, had 10 saves in the game and earned a shutout as the team won by a score of 4-0.

Caruana, O’Neill, Ackerman and McKenveny each scored a goal, with Caruana and O’Neill adding an assist each in the game.

“We knew that Geneseo was a team that we could not underestimate,” O’Neill said. “Their upset against Cortland was huge and we knew that they would be using that as momentum for our game.”

After winning the SUNYAC championship title, the Hawks then traveled to Keene, New Hampshire to compete in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 12. The team kept up their winning momentum with a 6-3 victory in the matchup over the Owls.

Despite the great anticipation for the next game,Vitale said, the team is preparing the same way they have all season long.

“We’re just going to keep practicing and keep working on things that we need to do,” Vitale said. “It’s the same thing, you come ready to work and do what you need to do.”

The way the team has been practicing all season long has gotten them this far, and has given them quite a bit of confidence, O’Neill said.

“Our team is very confident going into the NCAA Tournament,” she said. “We have been playing our best hockey of the whole season these past few weeks and it seems that everything is starting to come together.”

A lot of these players have participated in tournament play in the past two years, and the team looks to use that to their advantage, Ackerman said.

“With every year comes the desire to go even farther in the NCAA tournament than the year prior,” Ackerman said. “We have a lot of experience with this tournament play, so it is important for us to use that to our advantage.”

The Hawks next face No. 4 The College of New Jersey this Saturday, Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. in the second round of the NCAA Div. 3 tournament in Ewing, New Jersey.