‘Amazing’ field hockey season ends as Ephwomen fall to Messiah 2-0

Well, all good things must come to an end eventually.

For field hockey (14-3; 7-2 in the NESCAC), Sunday brought the team’s wonderful season to a close, as the Ephs fell in the NCAA quarterfinals to Messiah College by a final score of 2-0.

“It was such an amazing season,” forward Moonjoo Han ’03 said. “It’s the best team I’ve ever played with.”

“I guess it just wasn’t meant to go in for us,” Head Coach Alix Rorke said. “Overall, we had an excellent season, really something to be proud of.”

The loss to Messiah halted the best season ever for a Williams field hockey team, as the Ephs were only one game away from making the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. A 3-0 win over Wittenberg on Friday catapulted the Ephs into the quarterfinals, but a stifling Messiah defense held Williams in check.

“Messiah did a nice job defensively,” Rorke said. “They were a very strong team.”

Messiah got on the board less than four minutes into the game, and after taking the lead the Falcons stacked their defenders in the crease for the remainder of the game. The Ephs managed nine shots on goal and out-cornered Messiah eight to four, but they failed to get a shot past goalie Kristen Hegar.

“We played hard but things just didn’t go our way,” Han said.

Coming in as the second-ranked team in the country, host Messiah iced the game with a second goal in the final three minutes. It marked only the third time all season that goalie sensation Wendy Stone ’05 allowed more than one goal in a game.

“We really dominated in the first half, and things were much more back and forth throughout the second,” Rorke said after the match. “The seniors especially turned in a great effort today.”

The Ephs came into the Messiah contest riding high, and who can blame them after a 3-0 whitewashing of Wittenberg the day before. Williams completely dominated that game, out-shooting the Tigers 16-3.

Early in the first half, the Ephs grabbed a lead they would not relinquish. Tori Scott ’04, the star of the NESCAC tournament, ended the scoreless tie with her 11th goal of the season. Steff Noering ’03, who assisted on Scott’s goal, fed Tara Boyd ’05 20 minutes later to put the Ephs up by two.

In the second half, Boyd struck again, this time off a pretty feed from Han. It was the type of sharp passing that characterized the Ephs’ crisp play all afternoon.

“We looked the best we had ever looked on turf on Saturday,” Han said. “Our passing was stick-to-stick all day.”

“It was really a great team effort,” Rorke said. “We had outstanding passing all over the field, and particularly around the net. We were dangerous in the circle today, much more than we have been all season. Everyone was focused and intense.”

Stone recorded her eighth and final shutout of the season, highlighting a marvelous campaign that included 15 wins and a .697 goals against average. What made her season even more impressive is that it was her first ever as a goalie. Injuries opened the door for Stone and she took full advantage of her opportunity.

She was not the only one who made headlines this year; indeed, the 2002 Ephs were filled with individual accomplishments.

Midfielder Molly Jennings ’04 was named NESCAC Player of the Year, as she had four goals and seven assists while at the same time playing stellar defense. Jennings was named to the All-New England West Region First team along with Scott.

Scott also earned First Team All-NESCAC honors as she led the team with 34 points (11 goals, 12 assists). Her 12 assists set a new single-season record, and she is the all-time assist leader at Williams with 27.

Becca Kiselewich ’04 was named to the second team All-New England West Region. With those three players in particular, the senior leadership next season will be top notch.

“Becca, Tori and Molly are so good, that I look up to them,” Han said. “And Becca is so underrated. So many times this season, she saved our asses defensively.”

Defensive back Emily Grannon ’06 was a second team All-NESCAC selection and was also the NESCAC Rookie of the Year. Classmate Jaye Gregory ’06 had a promising season as well.

Of course, the senior class tallied a number of accolades as well. Noering finished her career as the Ephs’ all-time leading scorer with 103 points, breaking Rorke’s record of 95.

Her 39 goals leaves her tied with Rorke at the top. Noering was also named second team All-NESCAC and second team All-New England.

The NESCAC Champs will also miss the leadership of captains Han and Leanne McManama ’03, two players who bled purple and gold. The two other seniors, Kate Leonard ’03 and Lisa Hunt ’03, contributed immensely both on the field and in the locker room.

It was a fantastic season, the best ever for an Eph field hockey team. But one can be sure that the Ephs will be striving for even higher goals next season as they look to start another run at a championship.