Skidmore sinks field hockey

In field hockey’s season opener against Skidmore on Saturday, the women could not convert valuable opportunities, and the Ephs fell to the Thoroughbreds 4-1.

Williams came out strong in the first half, battling Skidmore for every ball. However, in the 19th minute of play, rookie Thoroughbred Anne Rosencrans converted a penalty corner assisted by teammate Carolyne McManama to put Skidmore up 1-0. Another penalty corner goal in the last few minutes of the first half gave Skidmore a 2-0 lead into the break.

Returning aggressively after halftime, the Ephs maintained control of the ball for most of the period. Despite the team’s strong ball handling, Thoroughbred Christine Kemp found a hole in the defense and broke away for an unassisted goal. Now down by three, the Ephs fought back as Jess Overlander ’09 finally converted a pass from Meighan McGowan ’09 to put the Ephs on the board. Still, Skidmore scored once more to end the period.

Both Williams and Skidmore had six penalty corners a piece, but the Ephs could not capitalize. In her varsity goaltending debut, Katrina Tulla ’11 made an impressive six saves, though couldn’t give her team the edge due to lopsided shooting. Skidmore outshot Williams 12-9.

Finishing the 2007 season with a 9-7 record, field hockey was plagued by five losses by a one-goal margin. “There was not a particular aspect of our game that was the reason for our losses last season,” Julia Nawrocki ’09 said. “One thing that we certainly should work on is our mental toughness. It is always difficult to be losing by a goal or two, but if we stay calm, pick up the intensity and play our game, we are very capable of closing that gap and finishing ahead.”

The Ephs started seven seniors on Saturday whose experience and leadership will help guide the team this season. All-American defender and two-time First Team All-NESCAC selection Overlander will provide strength in the backfield while McGowan – who has been named First Team All-NESCAC three times – will give power to the offense. Forwards Nawrocki and Sally Cobb ’09 will also be strong assets on offense, as Nawrocki scored five goals last season and Cobb had eight points on two goals and four assists. “We have a host of talented forwards who can finish in front of goal, including a large number of freshmen,” Nawrocki said.

Helping to protect Tulla in goal will be defenders Amy Siedlecki ’10, Sarah Burleigh ’09, Taylor Wilson Hill ’09, Arianna Kourides ’09 and Rebecca Gilbert ’10, as well as a number of competing sophomores and first-years.

After losing the season opener, the women hope to capitalize on their experience and power against other conference teams this season. The team looks forward to its game against Amherst and the strong competition of Middlebury and Bowdoin later this fall. “Our record last season was a little disappointing and obviously we would like to improve our record this season,” Nawrocki said. “However, in order to do this, we need to focus on each game as it comes. As each week progresses we will strive to elevate our level of play.”

This week, the Ephs will focus on their game against Bates on Saturday.