After a disappointing six-game skid to begin the season, the field hockey team is heating up in a big way. The Lady Pioneers are on a three-game winning streak, coming off an exhausting two-win weekend, the first of such since 2011. Among these wins was an impressive 9-0 shutout against Lindenwood in which junior midfielder Jessica Chandler had three goals, as well as an exciting 1-0 overtime victory versus Concordia (WI) in which sophomore forward Caroline Patrick netted the single goal in the 75th minute. Additionally, this winning streak is the longest since 2013. The team now sits at 4-7 on the season, a very solid record, and already an improvement over last year.
“I knew coming into the season we had the chance to pick up more wins than in previous years, but that it may take us some time,” said Head Coach Sarah Humphries about the team’s recent success.
This year’s team is very young with an extremely talented crop of underclassmen. Over half of the players are freshmen, and 16 of 19 are underclassmen.
Coach Humphries continued, “As you can imagine, with the youth, we had to get the freshmen up to speed with the level of play and knowledge it takes to play at the collegiate level. That coupled with a chunk of our starters being underclassmen, we had to learn how everyone plays. This takes time and cannot be done overnight. I think our team is starting to understand how each member plays.”
Not only are there many new faces on the field, but there is also a key new player on the sidelines. Former standout at DePauw University and newly hired assistant coach Grace Goodbarn has played a huge role in the team’s success throughout this season.
“I think our team is starting to understand how each member plays.” – Coach Sarah Humphries
“Grace’s knowledge and passion for the game carries over to the girls. This year we have been able to tackle practices differently than in the past, often splitting up attack and defense, and focus on specifics each group needs to improve upon and tweak. This really allows us to be more hands-on with the girls and also help provide more feedback,” said Coach Humphries.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the team’s newfound spark is exactly when it is coming. Only a few games remain before the conference tournament in early November, and the team is gradually improving toward this crucial set of games. The Lady Pioneers seem to be peaking at the correct point in the season, and they will look to build upon last weekend’s success as they challenge Virginia Wesleyan in Harrisonburg, VA on Sunday, Oct. 16.