Field Hockey Staying Sharp

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

The 2014 field hockey season has started with a bang for the Hawks.

They currently hold  three season wins, by taking their first three with a  combined score of 11-2. The lone loss, a shutout by Montclair State on Wednesday night, leaves the team with a 3-1 record.

“They come together and work together well,” said Head Coach Shanna Vitale. “This team is talented and very driven.”

Vitale has won SUNYAC Coach of the Year three seasons in a row (2011-13) and has led the Hawks to back to back SUNYAC titles in 2012 and 2013.

When teams have victorious records that span over a few seasons, sometimes they get complacent. They believe they can coast and that they don’t have to work as hard as they used to get back to where they were. With this team, that is not the case, Vitale said.

“Players aren’t complacent from past success,” said Vitale.

She also said that having players on the roster who have won two SUNYAC titles helps the team in ways with their experience and veteran leadership.

Vitale also said that the team has definitely been living up to her expectations.

“They have a quick transition game and they play great defensively,” she said. “They start the game strong and play with that same calm intensity for 70 minutes.”

The winning ways for the Hawks just keep on rolling. Fourth-year midfielder Deirdre O’Neill, who was dominant during the season opener, realized that now that the Hawks have won back-to-back SUNYAC titles, they will be going against every team’s best efforts night in and night out.

“After our last two seasons, we know we have a target on our backs, we are constantly moving forward and looking to take our play to the next level,” O’Neill said. “As a senior, I expect every player to play like it is her last practice, last game and last season.”

During the summer, O’Neill said she took her training to another level in order to prepare for the season.

“During the summer I made sure I worked harder than I had any other year… to make sure I was in the best shape possible coming into the season,” she said. “I knew that I had big shoes to fill taking over the center midfield position after alum Alyssa Stock graduated. So far the hard work has paid off and I am excited to see how everyone’s hard work pays off throughout our season.”

Fourth-year midfielder/back Emily Vanacore is just as excited in talking about preparations for the season and her expectations for this new campaign towards SUNYAC glory, she said.

“Each practice, we build more chemistry as a team and especially each game we build a more unified and comfortable lineup. We have a bunch of new players seeing the field this year, which brings new skills and attributes to our overall game,” she said.

“Teams from last year are expecting the same team they have played in the past but are in for a rude awakening when they see our new lineup. A huge difference in our preparation this year is that so many people are versatile in their positions. If something isn’t connecting on the field that day, we can make multiple changes and those players will still excel and be comfortable in the different positions.”

Both Vanacore and O’Neill said the upcoming season will bring its own challenges and that it will not be easy to achieve their goal, but with new players’ versatile skills in the lineup, a team hungrier than ever and a coach who pushes them to excellence with every practice and every game, the Hawks are primed for another huge campaign.