The Field Hockey team will look to earn a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) title for the fourth straight season. They began their season on Tuesday, Sept. 1 with a 1-0 victory against Western Connecticut State.
“We need to realize that no game is going to be easy now because when you have earned the SUNYAC title three straight years, everyone wants to beat you,” Head Coach Shanna Vitale said. “We are going to have to make sure that we keep our environment competitive day in and day out. I think it’s important that we don’t become complacent with where we are and that we bring that fire and energy to each game, regardless if in their minds they think it’s a tougher opponent or a weaker opponent.”
The biggest difference for the Hawks this season compared to last is that there are 10 new first-years on the team this year.
“We have 10 new players, that’s the most I’ve ever had,” Vitale said. “A majority of that group came in excellent shape, so it’s only a small handful that you need to worry about which is nice.”
Vitale expects the leaders on the team to take charge of the first-years and help them out when need be. Among those leaders will be fourth-year co-Captains Dani Ackerman and Jessica Caruana.
“I think having 10 new freshmen has been a blessing,” Ackerman said. “There is something special about this group, evident in their hustle, mental toughness and goal-oriented attitudes. I am beyond excited to see what they bring to the table this year and for the years to come. I have complete confidence in every single one of them.”
The Hawks’ first game of the season was a 1-0 win against Western Connecticut State on Tuesday, Sept. 1. This was the fourth season in a row that the Hawks opened their season with a shutout win against Western Connecticut State.
Second-year midfielder Hayley Kim scored the lone goal in the game. She recorded the goal just 4:32 after the game started. Second-year goalkeeper Megan Gangewere made her first career start in the cage and notched five saves while playing all 70 minutes for the shutout. Third-year forward Kayla McKeveny contributed as well by firing five shots, all of which were on goal.
The Hawks dominated possession of the ball as they held a 23-10 edge in shots and a 14-4 advantage in penalty corners over the Colonials. The strong defense was thanks in part to Caruana who recorded seven shots, four of which were on goal.
“I think it’s so important to start the season off on a great foot — this helps us set the pace for the season,” Ackerman said. “This game helped us figure out what we need to work on to prepare for our big weekend up at Utica.”
The Hawks will next travel to Utica where they will compete in the Utica Tournament. They will face St. Lawrence University on Saturday, Sept. 5 and host Utica College on Sunday, Sept. 6. Last season the Utica Pioneers went 18-3 and made it to the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“The play will be competitive, so we must focus on our goals, correct our mistakes from the previous game, and play smart field hockey,” Ackerman said. “We are looking to out hustle both teams this weekend and work hard to come out on top.”
After the tournament the Hawks will play their home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 9 against Montclair State University at 4 p.m.