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  • Writer's pictureREBECCA OSOWSKI

Field hockey finishes playoffs hungry for more

Junior forward Lily Stark attacks the Simmons defense in their 4-0 loss. Photo by LJ VP LaFiura

Following a 7-11 record, an early playoff exit, and the loss of their head coach, the field hockey team entered the 2022 season in the wrong mindset.

“It was almost like we were coming in, and it was the same thing all over again,” senior McKensie Lennon said. “[I was] going into my senior year of field hockey, coming off a losing team with a brand-new coach, and we had no idea how it was going to go.”

Despite the nerves, new Head Coach Jessica Paulin inherited the program and, according to Lennon, molded her coaching style to change the team’s mindset to believe they “have the skill to do anything [they] want, and it’s all about what [they] want to do with it,” Lennon said.

That mindset and theme of team bonding carried the Lasers throughout the season, earning them the sixth seed in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) playoffs.

The Lasers’ regular season wrapped in thrilling fashion, a 2-1 overtime victory over St. Joseph’s Maine, the same team they would face three days later in the GNAC quarterfinals.

“It really gave us that shift in momentum moving forward into playoffs that I think we really needed,” Paulin said.

The Lasers gather after allowing the opening goal to Simmons University in the GNAC semifinals. Photo by LJ VP LaFiura

The thrilling antics continued in the quarterfinal game, a battle that saw the Lasers maintain the lead for most of the second half before the Monks tied it in the last two minutes. The Lasers didn’t pull ahead again until double overtime when junior Lily Stark scored her team-leading 23rd goal to send the Lasers to the semifinals.

While Stark scored the game-winner, senior Sheridan Blaha scored the first goal, continuing the duo’s dominance.

“They are kind of our go-to for putting the ball in the net,” Paulin said. “It really just came down to whoever wanted it. We have relied on [Stark] and [Blaha] a lot all season, and they continue to perform for the team all the way through playoffs.”

“We would not be able to do anything without them, the defense, getting the ball up to us, so I think us finishing really pays our respect back to the defense for doing such a good job,” Blaha said.

Paulin agreed they are lucky to have a strong defense that keeps them in the game.

Following the victory over St. Joseph’s Maine, the Lasers traveled to Simmons for the semifinals, hoping to keep the playoffs in sight.

Despite a hard-fought battle, the Lasers dropped their semifinal 4-0, ending their season with an 11-8 record.

While the season did not wrap up as hoped, Paulin said the score does not reflect performance, saying her team battled and competed for most of the game. “No shame in losing to a great team,” Paulin said. “Overall, it was a great experience for the team, and it left a lot of our players returning next year hungry.”

With two graduating seniors returning for their fifth year, Paulin says the goal for next sea- son remains the same, competing for a GNAC championship. “This year was a good test to who we are and what we can be, but I think next year, our goal is just as high if not higher.”


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