In her 12 seasons as the head coach of the Fairfield field hockey team, Jackie Kane has never seen anything quite as amazing as this past weekend. Two double-overtime wins on the road have not only boosted the Stags’ confidence, but also their chance at a Northeast Conference playoff berth.
“I was shaking after the game was finally over at Sacred Heart; that’s how excited I was for this team,” said Kane. “This weekend is a tribute to all the hard work these girls have put into this program. We may be young but we’re finally gelling and building more and more momentum going into the last three games.”
“These two games were a serious test for the girls and this season,” said Kane, “but we never quit. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I now believe we can overcome any obstacle.”
Fairfield started off the amazing weekend on Friday with a 2-1 win over third place Quinnipiac (6-8, 3-2 NEC). Caitlin Quinn ’07 assisted the tying goal and scored the winning goal as the Stags edged the Bobcats. The victory snapped a 10-game losing streak and pushed the Stags to 1-3 in the NEC.
Sunday’s match at second place Sacred Heart (11-4, 4-2 NEC) was the venue for the young players on the Stags to step up into leading roles. Kane used freshman defender Katherine Donovan to face-guard Pioneer Carissa Eye, holding the scoring threat to only one goal and three shots on net. And it was a freshman, Ashton DiDonato, who knocked in the winning goal to complete the outstanding weekend.
“We were so pumped after the game Sunday,” said midfielder Lauren Keith ’08. “We knew we could do it all along. We played so well this weekend and I just don’t think either team really expected it out of us.”
A major factor in both victories was Stags goaltender Liz Thomas ’08. Thomas posted nine saves on 19 shots against Quinnipiac, and a season-high 15 saves on 32 shots at Sacred Heart. Thomas and the Stags defense also denied the Pioneers on 25 penalty corners.
“Liz played outstanding,” said Kane. “In both games I think we were the most physically fit team. The girls saw Liz rise to the challenge and fed off her positive energy.”
Kane attributed the win not only to the outstanding play of Thomas and the defense, but also to the tireless efforts of her offense.
The top four teams from the NEC make the playoffs; the Stags are currently sitting in fifth place.
Upcoming games include a home contest Friday, Oct. 20 against St. Francis, and home Oct.22 against NEC-leading Lock Haven, and away at Robert Morris.
Lock Haven is undefeated in NEC play (4-0) with an 11-4 overall record and has already secured their spot in the playoffs.