Field hockey rebounds with win over Amherst

Helping lead the Ephs’ shutout, defender Amy McLaughlin ’12 pushes the ball out of the Ephs’ end.
Helping lead the Ephs’ shutout, defender Amy McLaughlin ’12 pushes the ball out of the Ephs’ end.

With a powerful performance on Saturday, field hockey (4-3, 4-0 in the NESCAC) defeated Amherst (5-3, 2-3) 2-0, maintaining its perfect record in the NESCAC. The Ephs’ win against their rivals was particularly exhilarating after a loss to Springfield (5-4) on Wednesday in overtime.

Williams started strong on Saturday when Lucy Rollins ’12, the team’s leading scorer, scored off of an assist by Meera Sivalingam ’12 only 10 minutes into the first period. The assist was Sivalingam’s third of the season. The Ephs continued to play solidly throughout the half, and did not give up any goals despite taking only three shots to the Jeffs’ six and having only two penalty corners to the Jeffs’ seven.
Williams turned up the heat in the second period, taking nine shots to Amherst’s three. With just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Margie Fulton ’12 advanced the Ephs lead to two, scoring her first goal of the season after receiving a pass from captain Anne de Saint Phalle ’10.

Both goalies played the full 70 minutes, with Amherst’s Emily Vitale making eight saves and allowing two goals, and Williams’ Katrina Tulla’11 saving five shots and allowing no goals. Tulla now has 56 saves on the season to go with two shutouts and all four Eph victories.

This year’s team is very young, so strengthening teamwork skills was a major part of the Ephs’ challenge this season; the team’s work seems to have paid off. “It was a great team win,” de Saint Phalle said afterwards. “We’re finally starting to pass really well together, and the freshmen are starting to contribute a lot. We worked really well together as a team.”

The Ephs’ perfect NESCAC record is an indicator of the strength and talent of the team, but there’s a lot more work to do for the women. “We have to keep working well together and working on everything to build our successes and do better in the next game,” de Saint Phalle said. “We have to take more advantages of our scoring opportunities.”

Head Coach Alix Barrale was also proud of the team’s performance and felt the team succeeded because it took advantage of its opportunities.

“We just played 70 minutes of great field hockey,” she said. “It’s the first time we put together two really strong halves against a really good team. We really seemed to be in sync with each other … We were really hungry in the circle, we really capitalized on our opportunities.”

She particularly attributed the win to the leadership of her upperclassmen. “The senior leadership was really valuable,” she said. “They bring a great presence to the field, and the way they play together inspires others to play well.”

The win on Saturday was especially gratifying following Wednesday’s loss to Springfield. The Ephs matched the Lyons goal for goal throughout the game but fell short in overtime. Springfield put the first goal on the board more than halfway through the first period. However, Williams rebounded quickly, and the Ephs scored just over a minute later when Alice Bearn ’11 found the net with an assist from Fulton. The first half ended 1-1, although Williams took almost twice as many shots as Springfield with nine shots to the Lyons’ five.

Springfield scored again less than 10 minutes into the second period. Williams responded with an unassisted goal by Rollins tying the game at 2-2. The clock ran out before either team could score again, and the game entered a 15-minute seven-on-seven overtime period. Just over two minutes in, Springfield was given a penalty stroke, and Sam Williams scored, ending the game with a score of 3-2 in favor of Springfield.
“Springfield came out firing,” said Barrale. “We were well matched, but in the end we just couldn’t finish in the circle, and they called a penalty stroke … but the game doesn’t come down to one call. We made a few costly mistakes.”

Barrale felt that the team didn’t treat the game as if it were as big as Saturday’s battle. “We weren’t as focused as we were when it was Amherst. We just have to start playing every game as if it was Amherst.
The team plays Trinity today at 6:30 p.m. in a matchup of undefeated conference rivals. Williams will then face Bates at home on Saturday at 11 a.m.