Field Hockey shuts out Raiders in final regular season game
The field hockey team cruised past the Rivier University Raiders 5-0 Tuesday evening, bringing their regular season record to 14-1.
The first quarter featured a lone goal by the Lasers thanks to a shot by graduate midfielder Abbey Playle, which deflected off the stick of graduate forward Sheridan Blaha.
On the other side of the field, junior goalkeeper Courtney Tello had a great start to the game, saving several shots that would have otherwise gone into the net.
Entering the second quarter, both teams’ defenses came ready to play. The Raiders saw their best opportunity of the half slip through their fingers as a steal led to a strong scoring chance where the ball kissed the outside of the right post and traveled out of play.
It was clear that with about five minutes remaining in the half, the Lasers had yet to find their groove. Fortunately, senior forward Lily Stark took the reins of the Lasers’ offense and turned a great steal into an even better goal. Weaving through two Raiders defenders, Stark smacked the ball into the turf and once again, Blaha was there to give it the finishing touch.
Now up 2-0 with plenty of fresh legs, the Lasers earned a corner two and a half minutes into the second half. Despite an initial save by the Raiders’ goalie that left the powerful stick of Playle, the ball trickled in behind the goalie and gave the Lasers immediate momentum along with a three-goal advantage.
With just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Lasers kept their foot on the gas, specifically Playle, who for the third time, got a hold of the ball, ripped it violently toward the net, and allowed another teammate to put the ball in the back of the net. This time it was sophomore defender Kaylene Ellis who perfectly placed her shot into the bottom right corner of the goal from about 15 feet out.
The Lasers, now leading 4-0, continued to be disruptive on the defensive end as much as they were on the offensive end. Tello was a brick wall for her squad who found themselves with one more chance to increase their lead. Capitalizing on a loose ball that rolled right between her and the opponent, Playle was able to pull off an incredible reverse shot that soared into the top shelf, directly above the goalie’s left shoulder.
Even though the Lasers were dominating the final quarter of the match, the team continued to be aggressive until the final whistle blew. More impressively, the team played one woman down after a four-minute penalty was called, and even with the disadvantage, the Lasers controlled the time of possession by hustling to everything. This included a great sideline save, smart passes, and overall, solid fundamentals that were complemented by good team composure.
After the game, Head Coach Jess Paulin highlighted how differently the team looked last year compared to this year, mentioning that their fight towards the end of games was something they lacked last year, so her message this season was to play every quarter like it is a fresh start and make the most of the opportunities at hand.
“What I love about these players is they are hungry to score,” said Paulin. “They love being patient and playing the passing game—something that has come to us this season.”
Heading into the playoffs, Paulin is making sure her squad is focused on being the team she knows they can be, while also hinting at some potential strategies moving forward.
“We have a little bit more depth this year,” said Paulin. “It’s nice that we have the ability to switch people around.”
The field hockey team will head into this Saturday’s 11 a.m. home playoff game as the number one seed in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. Their opponent is still to be decided.