Field Hockey | Tufts victorious over Castleton in NCAA first round matchup
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 01:11
At a certain point, it stopped looking like field hockey. With snow steadily accumulating on Bello Field as the afternoon wore on, the No. 10 field hockey team played through the elements on its way to a dominating 8-0 victory over Castleton State College in Wednesday’s NCAA first round matchup. The victory, which propelled the Jumbos into Saturday’s round of 16, marked a rousing recovery for the Jumbos, who lost 4-1 to No. 6 Bowdoin last Saturday in the NESCAC semifinals.
By the last whistle, the contest had begun to resemble ice hockey more than anything else. But the Jumbos were clearly the better team, using the slick surface to their advantage and outpacing the Spartans beginning to end.
“We’ve really been focusing on finishing our looks and collecting rebounds to put them in,” junior midfielder Emily Cannon said. “On Wednesday, we finally achieved that. We focused on completing really quick free-hits and just pushing the ball up the field as fast as we could to catch them off guard. It worked well, and our transition game played into that too.”
The road to the blowout began right from the first whistle. Just over a minute in, the Jumbos notched their first penalty corner opportunity of the game, and senior forward Kelsey Perkins inserted the ball to sophomore midfielder Maggie Chapman, whose first attempt went just wide of the cage. Seconds later, the sophomore took another whack at the ball, but Castleton sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Galatioto was there to make the stop for the Spartans.
But on the rebound, Tufts broke through. Perkins tapped in her tenth goal of the season at the 1:37 mark to give the Jumbos the early advantage. A minute later, Cannon finished a goal of her own to double the Jumbos’ advantage.
“Coming out, we wanted to get as many goals as we could as fast as possible,” Cannon said. “We really didn’t want the bad weather to play any part in deciding the outcome of the game, so we knew if we got off to a good start earlier, we would be putting ourselves in a better position. After we scored the first few goals, we just wanted to keep going.”
For more than 10 minutes Tufts continued to possess, setting the fast pace of the game and having already forced Galatioto to make six saves halfway through the first half.
Smelling blood in the water, Tufts struck again. This time, first-year forward Hannah Park knocked in her third goal of the season, finding space in the middle of a congested circle to send one home for the Jumbos.
Trailing 3-0, Castleton began to press offensively for the first time in the contest. On a corner, junior forward Rachel Preusser inserted to classmate and midfielder Brynn Cayia at the top of the circle. Cayia took aim at the cage, but Tufts sophomore keeper Brianna Keenan was there to swat the ball out of danger. Preusser controlled the rebound, sending a quick shot on goal, but Keenan pulled through again for the Jumbos and made the save.
For the remainder of the half, the Jumbos rarely relinquished the ball. After exhausting Galatioto with a flurry of shots, senior co-captain Lia Sagerman inserted a corner to junior midfielder Stephanie Wan, who drove in from the top of the circle, finishing the shot for her first goal of the season.
With two minutes remaining in the half, Cannon was awarded a penalty stroke. The junior, a veteran in one-on-one scenarios, buried a shot past Galatioto for a 5-0 Jumbos advantage going into the intermission.
“[Freshman] Missy [Karp] took the ball endline and beat the goalie, but one of the defenders fouled her pretty blatantly right in front of the open goal, so a penalty stroke was awarded to us,” Cannon said. “Especially considering the weather conditions, I really focused on getting solid contact and a lot of strength behind the ball without slipping in order to send it all the way across and put it in the net.”
In the first half, the Jumbos held a 20-3 advantage in shots and saw eight penalty corner opportunities while allowing Castleton just a single corner. After the break conditions continued to worsen, but even the quickly accumulating wintry mix did not dampen the Jumbos’ momentum, as they continued to add on to a seemingly insurmountable lead.
As junior Katie Stuntz replaced Keenan in the cage, several of the Jumbos’ younger players took the field, a few for the first time this season. Enjoying the unique privilege of being able to play every single member of the roster in the NCAA tournament, the younger players continued just where the older ones left off.