After upsetting No. 9 William Smith College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the SUNY New Paltz field hockey team’s season came to an end on Nov. 16 in a 5-2 loss to No. 5 Bowdoin College.
The Lady Polar Bears scored their first goal of the game 4:20 into the game and never looked back. Fourth-year forwards Danielle Conklin and Alicia Aragosa scored the Lady Hawks’ two goals, while fourth-year goalie Toni Pjetri added six saves.
Head Coach Shanna Vitale said her team played the best she’s ever seen them play against William Smith, but they just met a superior team in the second round.
“I don’t think there’s a weak link on their team,” Vitale said. “The thing is we just kept working and we didn’t give up until the end.”
The Lady Hawks finished the season 14-9 and advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Fourth-year Captain Alyssa Stock said she is proud of the team because of the way in which they battled adversity this season.
“We had some bumps along the way, but to see that we ended playing so well was great,” Stock said. “Our last game we played against Bowdoin, they’re pretty good, but we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Conklin said she is glad the team improved throughout the season and played their best when it was most important.
“I think we peaked at that right time, that’s what everybody has been saying,” Conklin said. “We played our best hockey during the playoffs and the NCAA Tournament, which is when we needed it the most.”
The team’s five graduating fourth-years helped the program win their first two SUNYAC Championships and had two players, Conklin and Pjetri, set program records.
Conklin is the all-time leader in goals (35), assists (25) and points (95) and Pjetri is the all-time leader in saves (443) and shutouts (14).
Vitale said she’s going to miss this year’s class of fourth-years because of the leadership they provided to allow the team to win back-to-back conference titles.
“They brought a lot to this program and have put in a lot of time and sacrifice to get where we needed to be,” Vitale said. “They work really hard and just raised the bar at practice and pushed their teammates to be better.”
Stock said she is going to miss playing the sport she’s played in a team setting for all of her life.
“We have such a special bond as teammates, we really are a family,” Stock said. “I think it’s just going to be heartbreaking not being on the field playing with them.”
Conklin said she’s going to miss playing an organized sport with the teammates she loves.
Vitale said she has a great group returning next year and is looking forward to what they can do after most of them have won back-to-back titles.
“They were able to experience a season this year with many obstacles and what is exciting about them is that they learned to work through obstacles and overcome adversity,” Vitale said. “The taste and getting that far and not going any further is a good thing because they’ll raise the bar higher for next year.”