Vital SUNYAC Weekend Ahead for Field Hockey

Third-year forward Serena Capsello has seven goals and two assists on the season. Photo courtesy of sports information.

The field hockey team enters a crucial weekend which will have big playoff implications as they travel to State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) rivals SUNY Oswego on Friday, Oct. 20 and SUNY Cortland the following day.

The Hawks are currently tied with Cortland for second in the conference standings, with each team being 3-1 in SUNYAC play this season. Oswego is not in line for a playoff spot, as they sit in fifth with a conference record of 2-2.

SUNY Oneonta, who are first in the conference with a SUNYAC record of 4-0, will also face Cortland and Oswego this weekend. The Red Dragons hold the tiebreaker over New Paltz, as they defeated the Hawks earlier this season by a score of 4-1.

Fourth in the conference is SUNY Geneseo, who are done with conference play and finished with a record of 4-2. New Paltz holds the tiebreaker over the Knights, as they defeated Geneseo 4-2 back on Sept. 23.

“We realize that we still have a chance to host, but we are trying to take it one game at a time,” Hawks head coach Shanna Szablinski said. “We have to control the play and dictate our effort. It’s important we come out strong from the start against Oswego.”

The Hawks’ last two matchups have seen them drop consecutive nonconference games to nationally ranked opponents.

“The past few matches have been tough ones,” third-year midfielder Samantha Ackerman said. “However, teams like Skidmore and Kean are teams that exposed us to the intensity and level of play that we are going to see from here on out. Oswego and Cortland will not be easy. They are going to bring the heat and are definitely out to get us.”

On Oct. 7, New Paltz fell 2-1 to No. 15 Kean University. It marked the Hawks’ Senior Day, as fourth-year goalkeeper Megan Gangewere, fourth-year midfielder Hayley Kim and fourth-year forward Justine O’Reilly were honored prior to the start of the game for their dedication to the team over the past four seasons. The trio has guided New Paltz to two SUNYAC titles and NCAA Tournament victories in 2014 and 2015, and a third appearance in the SUNYAC Tournament in 2016.

The Hawks allowed both goals to the Cougars in the first half and created multiple scoring opportunities in the second half. They were eventually awarded a penalty shot that third-year back Paige Gladstone successfully shot past the goalkeeper to cut the lead in half. It was the first goal of Gladstone’s collegiate career. Unfortunately, New Paltz was unable to get another goal on the scoreboard.

Gangewere has a strong showing in the cage, as she notched 15 saves on the day.

The Hawks then hosted No. 16 Skidmore College on Oct. 10 and lost by a score of 2-0. This marked the team’s fourth game against a nationally ranked opponent this season.

Similar to their prior game, New Paltz allowed two goals in the first half before shutting out their opponent in the second half, but the offense could only muster three shots and were shutout for the third time this season.

Gangewere had another solid performance, as her 13 saves on the afternoon bumped up her season total to 154 which is now ranked second in the SUNYAC.