Field hockey catches fire at end of season

It is safe to say that field hockey is on a roll.

Following a sluggish start to the season, the Ephs have suddenly caught fire like an ant under a magnifying glass. After Sunday’s 4-0 domination of Wesleyan in the NESCAC quarterfinals (their sixth consecutive shutout), Williams finds itself needing only two more wins to advance to the NCAA tournament.

“We’re playing our best at the right time,” said Moonjoo Han ’03. “Everything has really been clicking on all cylinders lately.”

Everything, that is, since a 2-1 loss to Colby dropped the Ephs to a disappointing 4-4. Clinging to a .500 record, the Ephs traveled to Middlebury to face the nationally ranked Panthers. In what was undoubtedly the turning point of their season, the underdog Ephs shutout Middlebury 2-0 on the strength of two Stephanie Noering ’03 goals and 13 saves by superstar goalie Monelle Quevillon ’03.

“Monelle was just awesome,” said head coach Alix Rorke. “She was not intimidated by their offense at all and it showed as she played her best game ever.”

The win at Middlebury started off a string of dominating performances by the Ephs. Amherst strolled into town next and the Ephs pummeled the Lord Jeffs 3-0 as Tori Scott ’04 led the way with a goal and as assist.

The next week, the Ephs went on the road and blanked Connecticut College 1-0 and Springfield 3-0. Scott, the Ephs’ leading scorer with nine goals and eight assists, netted two in the win over Springfield. That win also marked Williams’ third straight win over a nationally ranked opponent.

On Saturday, riding high from their four game winning streak, the Ephs faced Tufts, a team they had not beaten in four years. Led by Han, who had a goal and an assist, the Ephs broke the Jumbo Jinx with an electrifying 3-0 victory. Scott added her third goal in four games.

The celebration did not last long though, as the Ephs traveled to Bowdoin the following day for a date with Wesleyan in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Ephs team that showed up on Sunday was a far cry from the one that squeaked by Wesleyan in overtime earlier in the year.

Noering scored two goals to give her nine on the year, and also assisted Scott on a goal in the first half. The defense, led by Quevillon, posted its sixth straight shutout. The defense has been so dominant it is probably easier to hear the drive-thru man at McDonald’s than it is to score on the Ephs. “It was a really well played game for Williams,” Rorke said. “The passing was incredible.”

Williams now advances to the NESCAC semifinals at Middlebury, where they will play Bowdoin, a team that beat them 2-1 earlier this year. However, the neutral site and Middlebury’s artificial surface may be to the Ephs advantage.

“We play amazing on turf,” said a confident Han. “Our passing, our speed, everything gets better when we play on turf.”

The Bowdoin game is on Saturday, with the victor facing the Middlebury-Amherst winner the following day for the NESCAC Championship. Few would have predicted a few weeks ago that the Ephwomen would find themselves in the position they do heading into the weekend.