The field hockey team lost their game at home against The University of Rochester last Saturday, Sept 20. with a final score of 3-2.The team,with a current record of 4-3 in their non-conference games, begins SUNYAC play at home this Friday against SUNY Oswego.
The Rochester Yellowjackets scored two goals against the Hawks within the first 10 minutes of the game and warded off seven shots attempted by New Paltz in the first half. The Hawks made a comeback in the second half, credited to goals made by second-year forward Erin Landy in the 57th minute and fourth-year midfielder Deirdre O’Neill in the 69th minute. However, the lone second half goal by Rochester’s second-year forward Callie Fisher put the Yellowjackets ahead to finish the game.
Head Coach Shanna Vitale said that at this point in the season, the team is very focused.
“At this point, the team is really starting to understand what their strengths are, playing to their strengths” she said. “They are focused on the things we took away from the past couple games, [and] what we need to work on to be successful against Oswego.”
Third-year co-Captain Dani Ackerman has contributed to the Hawks’ success so far this season. Ackerman has been aggressive on the field and has led the way tied with a team high four goals, in 32 shots and 18 shots on goal. This record could not exist without the heightened fortitude of her teammates, she said.
“My favorite thing about New Paltz field hockey is our enthusiasm,” she said. “Our team thrives on high energy-this is why we are so successful. Whether it’s practice or a game, we celebrate the small victories.”
Having come off of two consecutive trips to the NCAA Div. III Field Hockey Tournament, the Hawks look to continue their successes and even surpass it this season.
Vitale said she fully expects the team to continue to play hard and learn from their mistakes.
The team has a very different demographic from years past. There are seven new first-years and a transfer that just joined the team this season.
“I am not going to lie when I say we had amazing players in the past,” third-year co-Captain Jessica Caruana said. “But we have amazing players now, just with different talents.”
Caruana believes that the team’s close relationship with each other has proven to be the strongest asset of the team.
“I find it incredible how everything we do is always together, on and off the field, without even realizing it,” she said.
While the team has a diverse mix of talent, they are still experimenting with lineups and still have questions to be answered, Vitale said.
“If all the questions were answered, we’d have a perfect record,” Vitale said.
She said that none of the positions are ever set in stone and that she is still looking for which lineup works best in certain situations, as well as what players work well with one another.
This gives every player a chance to show what they have and that creates a friendly competitive air on the field. The girls want to outdo each other, but still see each other do well in the end, Vitale said.
With great talent and chemistry, the Hawks look to continue the success they’ve had the past two years. The team aims tocontinue to play hard, to learn from their mistakes and make it so every team they play has to play hard to keep up with them, Ackerman said.
“We are going to take the season one game at a time and keep focusing on the small victories that will lead to our ultimate goal,”Ackerman said. “A national championship.”
Aside from hosting SUNY Oswego this Friday, the Hawks face their rival SUNY Cortland this Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. in the second installment to their SUNYAC season.