Field Hockey Fights to the End, But Falls in Finals

The field hockey team's season came to a close after a 5-0 defeat to SUNY Cortland in the SUNYAC Championships. Photo courtesy of sports information.

The field hockey team’s season came to an end in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship game when the Hawks lost to SUNY Cortland 5-0 on Saturday, Nov. 1.

New Paltz concludes its season with an overall record of 7-12. This marks the team’s first finals loss in program history and the first time the Hawks have finished their season below the .500 mark since 2011.

Fourth-year forward Justine O’Reilly believes that the loss can be a lesson for younger players in seasons to come.

“The game on Saturday was definitely emotional for us, but I think there is a lot that can be taken away from it,” she said. “For starters, we weren’t favored to make it to the championship game so we proved to a lot of people, especially ourselves, that we deserved to be there. Because we have such a young team the experience of playing, and unfortunately losing, in the finals should be motivation for the future. They now know the feeling of what it’s like to be so close to a title and they should never want to feel the disappointment of losing again. It really should just light a fire under them to immediately start preparing for next season.”

The game remained scoreless until the Red Dragons got on the board in the 10th minute. Cortland doubled its lead at the 25:05 mark and the Red Dragons notched two more goals before halftime.

Hawks fourth-year goalkeeper Megan Gangewere allowed just one goal in the second half, but the offense was unable to break through.

Cortland outshot the Hawks 25-6, but New Paltz had its opportunities as they held an 11-10 advantage in penalty corners. Third-year forward Serena Capsello recorded two shots, while O’Reilly, fourth-year midfielder Hayley Kim, second-year forward Kaitlyn Gunter and first-year midfielder Carly Croteau each tallied one shot.

Gangewere was a bright spot for the Hawks, as she finished her collegiate career with a 16 save performance. This also marked Kim and O’Reilly’s final game as members of the team.

O’Reilly finishes her career ranked first in program history with 43 goals, and second in points with 99. Her 18 goals this season were the third-most by a Hawk in a single season. Kim concludes her career third all time in assists with 22 helpers over her four seasons. Gangewere’s 380 career saves are third most in program history, and her .796 save percentage is the second highest. Her 224 saves this season were the second most by a Hawk in a single season.

“I’m going to miss literally everything about New Paltz field hockey,” O’Reilly said. “The program and the people have made me into the person I am and I can’t believe that it’s actually over. We always say that not everyone gets to experience playing the sport they love in college, so you have to embrace the time while you have it. New Paltz field hockey will always be my family and I couldn’t imagine playing for any other school.”

Each of the fourth-years also earned All-Conference honors, as announced by the SUNYAC on Monday, Nov. 6. O’Reilly earned First Team honors, while Kim and Gangewere were named to the All-SUNYAC Second Team. Third-year back Maggie Cottrell also earned Second Team honors. She notched five shots on the season and led a defense that allowed 2.95 goals per game.

Despite finishing with a losing record, third-year midfielder Samantha Ackerman is still proud of her team, that included 10 newcomers, for making it all the way to the championship game and believes this season is a step in the right direction for 2018.

“Our record really did not reflect who we were as a team,” she said. “I definitely think we should and could have won many of the games we lost to. However, I’m proud of the fact we made it to the SUNYAC Championship. I’m extremely grateful to have had that opportunity.

“I am so excited with the amount of returners we will have. I am extremely confident that we are going to kill it next year, however we have a lot of work to do in the off season and are most definitely not complacent with how we left off. I believe that we will have a great season next year.”