The field hockey team split a pair of games over the weekend as they opened up State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) play.
Before their matchups, it was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 22 that the Hawks were ranked No. 17 in the 2015 Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) NCAA Division III National Coaches Poll. This is the first time in program history the Hawks have received a national ranking.
“Receiving a national ranking is a great feeling,” Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Jessica Caruana said. “It is something that we have been striving to do since I was a freshman and I am sure from years prior. It is a great honor to be recognized for the accomplishments we have made for our program in recent years. However, it is just a number and we will continue playing our game and fighting for that end result, which is to win.”
The Hawks’ first match as a nationally-ranked team took place on Friday, Sept. 25 with the team coming out on top by a score of 5-1 over SUNY Oswego.
New Paltz scored three times by the 14:36 mark thanks to goals by Caruana, third-year forward Kayla McKeveny and first-year forward Rachel McLaughlin. Caruana and McLaughlin would tally another goal each, with Caruana being credited for an assist on McLaughlin’s goal. Hawks second-year midfielder Hayley Kim also contributed to the victory with two assists.
The Hawks held a 27-6 advantage in shots and a 21-6 cushion in penalty corners. Hawks fourth-year goalkeeper Alayna Wageman notched three saves to secure the defense.
“It felt great starting off SUNYAC play with a win against Oswego,” Hawks fourth-year co-Captain Dani Ackerman said. “Oswego has become a strong team and they challenged us in many ways. This game allowed us to recognize some of the areas we must improve upon in order to be successful throughout the rest of our season.”
Then, on Saturday, Sept. 26 the Hawks lost to SUNY Cortland by a score of 1-0. The loss dropped the team’s record to 7-2.
The Hawks dominated possession of the ball as they outshot the Red Dragons 15-5 and held a 12-5 advantage in penalty corners. Thirteen of New Paltz’s shots were on goal.
“The loss against Cortland was very difficult,” Hawks Head Coach Shanna Vitale said. “We did everything but score. We dominated and controlled play but we just couldn’t finish the job and it cost us the game. It was a really tough game for us but also a very good learning experience too.”
Ackerman led the Hawk attack with five shots, four of which were on goal. Caruana fired off four shots on goal and all three of McKeveny’s shots were on goal. Both of McLaughlin’s shots were on net and Kim contributed a shot as well. Wageman played all 70 minutes and tallied three saves in a losing effort.
On Sept. 29, it was announced that the Hawks retained their No. 17 ranking.
The Hawks have an overall record of 7-2 and will next come home to continue SUNYAC play against The College at Brockport on Friday, Oct. 2. The next day, the team will face SUNY Geneseo in a rematch of last year’s SUNYAC Tournament Finals, a match the Hawks won 4-0 on Nov. 8, 2014.
“We need to come out with two big wins this weekend against Brockport and Geneseo,” Ackerman said. “Winning the rest of our conference games is incredibly important. There is a lot we still need to work on, so we will be capitalizing on these skills throughout the week leading up to these games. The SUNYAC conference has become very competitive and we cannot overlook anyone.”