By WESLEY HOST
Fences were decorated with multicolored signs for every player as parents and alumni packed the Battleground bleachers Saturday to watch the Mary Washington field hockey team take on Wesley College. The Lady Eagles had an impressive home debut, defeating the visiting Wolverines 2-0.
Both teams struggled to find their offense early, as neither team could get on the scoreboard through the first 25 minutes of game action. Wesley appeared as though they were going to get the scoring underway, but senior defender Nicole Conti sprawled out in front of the goal to prevent the potential score.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Eagles got into a rhythm, dominated the ball, and spent most of the time on Wesley’s side of the field. Junior forward Erin Duffy found a seam and beat the final defender yet was stopped short by charging Wesley goalie Sarah Johnson. However, UMW kept attacking the Wolverine defense until they finally got it to crack.
With just under seven minutes to play in the half, the Eagles broke the scoreless tie. Sophomore midfielder Florence George took the ball up the left side of the field, crossed it to the middle where it ricocheted off senior midfielder Emma Jones and wound up at the feet of senior defender Heidi Sheehan, who ripped the ball through the net for the goal. The Eagles carried that momentum through the end of the half.
The Eagles stayed aggressive on offense following the intermission. Penalties plagued Wesley, which resulted in several short corners that allowed the Eagles to continually threaten close to the Wesley goal. Florence George connected with several players but the Wesley defense prevented them from finding the net. Since short corners were not working, the Eagles decided to just pound the ball in head-on. Chances opened up and UMW finally converted with just under nine minutes left in the game. Freshman defender Morgan Hodges received a pass from fellow freshman Caitlin Baker and assisted Jones who knocked it into the goal.
Coach Dana Hall had nothing but good things to say about her team after the game. Wesley had beaten them the year before in double overtime so the Eagles came out with vengeance.
“Two of the conferences leading scorers were on [Wesley] and we shut them down,” Hall said. “We’ve got to stay consistent and stay healthy [to have a strong rest of the season].”
“We played a very good, physical game against a tough opponent,” Jones said.
“It was a very good Capital Athletic Conference victory, a good win after the overtime loss last year,” senior defender Kristen Haynor added.
“We did really well, played as a unit and brought out intensity.” senior goal keeper Chrissy Bowdren said.
The win moved the field hockey team to 3-3 on the year. The Eagles next game is a home bout on Wednesday, Sept. 29 against Catholic University at 4:30 p.m.