This Sunday, the field hockey team edged Columbia University 4-3 as they improved to a 4-0 home record at University Field. Seniors Nikki McLucas, Hillary Fitts, and Shealyn Testa scored along with Felicitas Heinen ‘15 to lead the Lady Stags to their fifth straight victory and an 8-2 overall record.
The game got off to a quick start when Columbia’s Katie Ruesterholz scored just 4 minutes and 38 seconds into the game to give the Lions a one-goal lead. For the next ten minutes, both teams maintained steady defense and no goals were allowed.
With 18 minutes left in the half, McLucas scored off a penalty corner with an assist from Heinen, tying the game at 1-1. Around the one-minute marker, both Heinen and Testa came up short on penalty corner shots as they each hit the post on consecutive opportunities. The score remained the same at the end of the half.
During halftime, Columbia head coach Marybeth Freeman said to her team, “We will not do to ourselves what we did to them last year.” This was a reference to last year’s matchup between the two teams which saw the Lions topping the Stags at a score of 4-3.
The Lions listened to their coach early in the second half as they scored on a penalty stroke around the 40 minute mark. After establishing a 2-1 lead, the Columbia defense was unstoppable for the next 20 minutes and denied multiple penalty corner opportunities for the Stags.
However, with less than ten minutes remaining in the game, Heinen capitalized on a penalty corner chance to tie the score at 2-2. Less than a minute later, Fitts scored a goal of her own to give the Stags a one-goal lead late in the game.
Then, with 3:37 left, Testa scored what would be the game-winning goal with an assist from Kaitlyn Taddeo ‘16. Just 30 seconds later, Katie Ruesterholz recorded her second goal of the day for the Columbia Lions. From there on, the clock dwindled down as the Stags notched a 4-3 victory to move to 4-0 at home and 8-2 overall.
In total, it was a fabulous performance from the field hockey team and especially its seniors. McLucas, Fitts, and Testa provided the majority of the Stags’ offense against Columbia. Heinen put together an excellent defensive game along with freshman goalkeeper Caitlin Bennett, who saved three of the six shots that came her way.
In a post-game interview with Testa, she commented on the team’s current five-game-win streak, “I think we can keep the streak going for the rest of the season and get the America East Championship.”
Testa believes that this team is built to win and credits the talented freshmen for the team’s success. “The freshmen have really stepped it up and bring a whole new dynamic to the game,” she said. “They create chances for everyone else.”
When asked about the team’s upcoming games against mostly America East conference teams, Testa said, “We’re excited. We have a lot to build on, but have a good basis to succeed with.”
The Stags field hockey team will play their next game on the road against Vermont on Oct. 5 in their first America East conference matchup of the season. They will then travel to Harvard University on Oct. 13. Four out of their five matchups following these games are against conference rivals.