Field hockey streak hits three with win over JHU

Katie Teleky scored a goal in Saturday’s game against John Hopkins University to contribute to the Garnet’s win. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

This has not been a season without obstacles for the Swarthmore field hockey team, a condition that was reflected in their record for the early part of the season.

Faced with an inexperienced roster — five juniors and zero seniors — the Garnet has been forced to coalesce on the fly, a process which can take years to get down.

The growing pains reared their heads from the outset, as Swarthmore dropped four of its first five matches of the season. The low point came in a 6-3 loss to conference rival Ursinus on September 21, when the Garnet allowed four second-half goals and fell to 1-4.

Since then, the results have told the story of a different team. Two days later, the Garnet halted its losing streak with a 4-2 Centennial Conference victory over Dickinson, defeated Eastern in an overtime thriller on the road, and reached the .500 mark by defeating Johns Hopkins for the first time in five years in front of a home crowd.

“This win was huge for us,” forward Taryn Colonnese ’13 said. “[It] shows the conference how strong of a team we are, and it helps us prove to ourselves that we can play with any team out there.”

It can be just as easy (and just as dangerous) to look too deeply into a positive stretch as a negative one, and the team has not even reached the midway point of the season.

Aarti Rao provided the assist for the second of Nia Jones’s goals. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

However, the team that held on for a 3-2 victory on Saturday against a conference opponent barely resembles the one that stumbled to a 1-4 start.

“We’ve been improving so much as a team over the past weeks — especially in working to stay calm and composed and to make smart decisions with the ball,” Colonnese said. “We’re also becoming so much more cohesive as a team, which is awesome since we have so many new players this year.

“We could still work on being more aggressive — going for interceptions and really making the most of our chances in the circle — but that’s definitely coming with the confidence we gain from each game.”

The Garnet came out firing early. Forward Nia Jones ’14, a bright spot all year long, fired into the left corner off an assist from midfielder Sophia Agathis ’13 to put Swarthmore up 1-0 two minutes into the game.

Ten minutes later, Jones once again made the most of a good assist, this one from Aarti Rao ’14. Jones’s second goal hit the right corner of the net, and the Garnet quickly jumped to a 2-0 lead.

The defense kept Hopkins off the board in the first half. Goalkeeper Gabriella Capone ’14 led the way with three first-half saves including an impressive stop in the 16th minute that would turn out to be the difference in the game.

Capone was named the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Week for her impressive performance.

“I’m not quite sure how I made the save because even though she was pretty close, my reaction was a bit late,” Capone recalled. “I was trying to keep it in play by trying to push it back, but instead it got deflected just over the top of the goal.”

The defense even managed to get in on the scoring as well, as Allison Ranhous ’13 scored on a long blast off an Abby Lauder assist in the final minutes of the first half. The goal was the first of Ranshous’s career.

“I usually don’t take shots on the corner, so I had to turn around get up a little bit, stop the ball outside the circle and take a quick shot.” Ranshous said. “Knowing from what we had practiced, the best thing to do there is take a quick shot.

“It was just kind of an unnaturally calm moment for me, where I just took a shot, and fortunately it went in.”

Hopkins fought back in the second half, controlling the pace every bit as much as Swarthmore had controlled it in the first thirty-five minutes of the game. The Blue Jays took twelve second-half shots to Swarthmore’s two, and their offensive pressure finally led to results.

In the game’s 48th minute, sophomore forward Meghan Kellett made it 2-1 with her team’s first goal, the assist coming from junior midfielder Liane Tellier. Swarthmore struggled to control the ball offensively in the second half, and forced replacement goalkeeper Elizabeth Peijnenburg — taking over for Kim Stein after the first half — to make only one save off a shot by Jones in the game’s final minutes.

As the match was winding down, the Blue Jays came within one goal, as junior forward Maggie Phillips scored off an assist by senior Ali Bahneman in the game’s 67th minute.

Phillips’s goal, however, proved to be the last shot Johns Hopkins would take, as Swarthmore held on to preserve the victory.

They move to 4-4 on the year and 2-2 in conference play, as Johns Hopkins drops to 5-4 and 2-1.

“I think [the recent success] comes from dedication to the team and to each other,” Ranshous said. “Our greatest asset is that we don’t have that one star player who rises above everyone else. We’re a very evenly matched, well-rounded team and that’s one of our strengths, that we work off each other so much.”

The Garnet’s next match comes Saturday at Gettysburg, also a Conference game. Play is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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