Coming off a 1-0 win against SUNY Oneonta, the field hockey team is preparing to take on their next two SUNYAC pool-play opponents — SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oswego –— this weekend.
Head Coach Shanna Vitale said the victory against Oneonta on Oct. 2 was made possible through “smart passing” that kept the ball moving fluidly.
“It was about really trying to smother the ball and put a lot of pressure on the players,” Vitale said. “It showed that we definitely outworked and outhustled Oneonta and with the attitude of being relentless, you can really shut down the teams.”
New Paltz scored its lone goal in the second half of the game when a free hit by New Paltz’s second-year defender Jessica Caruana was redirected into the net by Oneonta’s Tess Tracy.
Fourth-year goalkeeper Toni Pjetri made two saves for the Lady Hawks. Vitale said it was one of the biggest reasons for the win.
“Toni made some really dynamic saves,” Vitale said. “The score could have been a lot different than what it was.”
Pjetri said it was clear the Lady Hawks “showed more passion” than Oneonta.
“The girls were playing hard, and it was a low-scoring game, which was nerve wracking,” Pjetri said. “We were able to get a goal and keep them out of our defensive end for the majority of the game.”
As the team looks toward future SUNYAC games, Vitale said they must make sure they emphasize the importance of working as a group.
“Obviously both games are going to be tough. Cortland is doing really well and we need to come out and just play our game and realize what we’re capable of doing,” Vitale said. “It has to be a total team effort. We need to be intense, but it’s like a calm intensity, because we want to be focused and poised.”
Third-year right midfielder Deirdre O’Neill said the team has more pressure on them now to maintain the title they earned in 2012.
“We were SUNYAC champs last year and it’s important to keep the title,” O’Neill said. “We’re focusing on it every day. None of these games come easy, but we are willing to do whatever we can.”
Pjetri said since winning the SUNYAC championship last season, other teams have been looking at the Lady Hawks in a different light.
“We’re no longer underdogs, we’re now the team to beat,” Pjetri said. “Next up are Cortland and Oswego, and Cortland is a team we have been waiting for all season. After beating them in SUNYACs last season, we want to beat them again to show them that we are the better team and that that win wasn’t out of fate or luck, but because we are a strong team that works together.”
O’Neill said the team’s motto this season is “more,” a phrase that reflects the team’s philosophy to always put in the most effort and not settle for less than the best.
“I think that we definitely expect more from each other on the field and in practice and in games,” O’Neill said. “We are hungry out there. We don’t want it to be a one-hit-wonder thing, we want it to be that every year -— we deserve it.”
This season, the team welcomed five first-years: forward Erin Landy, defender Melissa Wagner, forward and defender Colleen Roemer, defender Jillian Grennan and forward and defender Kayla McKeveny.
Vitale said so far the transition has been seamless.
“One thing that really stands out about our team is that if you were to look at them in a group, you wouldn’t know who is a freshmen and who is a senior. They have a lot of chemistry and respect for each other,” Vitale said. “It is a family and that’s one thing that really glues them together, and they understand that they’re in it for each other and not just for themselves.”
The Lady Hawks defeated Union College 3-2 on Wednesday, with goals from O’Neill, Caruana and fourth-year forward Danielle Conklin. Pjetri added one save and second-year Alayna Wageman added two saves.