After earning a nonconference shutout win in their final regular season home game, the field hockey team will prepare for the semifinal round of the 2015 State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament.
The Hawks earned a 2-0 shutout win against Kean University on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Hawks Head Coach Shanna Vitale said the win was about the team bouncing back, being able to move forward and play together as a team.
“Most importantly, it was also the last home game for the regular season for the five seniors,” she said. “I think it’s a good way to get into playoffs and send the seniors off for their last regular season home game. It was a good buildup to Wednesday.”
During the game, the Hawks finished with a 17-12 margin in shots and an 18-10 edge in penalty corners.
Hawks first-year forward Rachel McLaughlin put the team on the board early in the fifth minute, redirecting a feed from fourth-year co-Captain Jessica Caruana into the back of the cage.
After a 1-0 halftime lead, the Hawks added a second goal in the second half. Hawks third-year forward Erin Landy netted a goal off a penalty corner in the sixty-sixth minute. Both Landy and McLaughlin scored their sixth goals of the season.
Hawks fourth-year goalkeeper Alayna Wageman made a crucial stop off a redirected shot from Kean’s second-year back Katie-Lynne Lussier in the sixth-eighth minute to preserve the shutout bid.
Wageman turned aside a total of nine shots from the Hawks cage to record her fourth shutout of the season.
In the release of the first NCAA Regional Rankings for the 2015 season, the Hawks were ranked at No. 2 in the North Atlantic Region, as announced on Oct. 21 by the NCAA.
The regional rankings are based on the same criteria used to select and seed teams in the NCAA Div. III Tournament. This was the first time in program history the Hawks have been included in the rankings.
In the SUNYAC conference, the Hawks clinched the No. 2 seed on Sept. 17. With an overall record of 13-4 and 5-1 tally in conference play, the Hawks will look to win their fourth-straight SUNYAC Championship title.
After closing their regular season schedule with a nonconference road game against Vassar College on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m, the Hawks will host SUNY Geneseo in the semifinal game of the 2015 SUNYAC Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. on the North Turf Field. The semifinal game will be a rematch of last year’s SUNYAC Final.
Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Dani Ackerman said the team has worked hard to gain recognition in regards to the regional rankings — but they must continue to strive for more.
“Playoffs gives every team a clean slate,” she said. “If anything, this ranking only gives our opponents more of an incentive to beat us. We constantly have a target on our back, so we must work relentlessly to attack our opportunities and capitalize on our strengths at this point in our season.”
Ackerman broke the program record in points on Oct. 21, as she registered the 96th in her career. That passed the program’s former all-time record of 95, which was set by Danielle Conklin from 2010-13.
She said being the program’s all-time leader in points and goals is rewarding.
“My former teammate [Danielle Conklin] really set the bar high for me,” she said. “It has been both challenging and rewarding to follow in her footsteps and continue to set new heights for my team. I am excited to pass the torch to the next attacker who is willing to break my record, and continue to set the bar higher for players to come.”
Caruana and Ackerman were selected to the compete in the 2015 Victory Sports Tours/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) NCAA Div. III Senior Game on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia as announced on Oct. 28 by the NFHCA.
Ackerman and Caruana are the third and fourth New Paltz student-athletes to compete in the NFHCA Div. III Senior Game in the history of the program. Previously, Conklin and Alyssa Stock were chosen.
To prepare for the regular season finale and postseason play, Vitale said the team will do the same routine they have been doing.
“We will continue to work on things from previous games and training at a high level where we are competing and challenging each other throughout practice,” she said. “We are getting ready to come out against Vassar and making sure that we’re ready physically as well as mentally. Vassar is a great team so it comes down to us just being able to play to our strengths and continue to get better each day. That’s what is important right now.”