Garnet Escape Close Calls

With two hard-fought wins, Swarthmore field hockey is finding itself in playoff contention for the first time in years. Victories against Washington (3-2) and Gettysburg (3-2, OT) give the Garnet a 3-3 record in Centennial Conference play.

It seemed the team had waited to the last minute to strike against Washington, coming from behind to score the winning goal in the waning minutes of the match.  But that was merely a setup for last Saturday, when the Garnet waited even longer to net the game-winner against Gettysburg.

The game was closely fought the entire way through, as each team finished with the same number of shots in regulation. In the first half, the Garnet were dominated in possession, but a strong defensive effort kept the Bullets off the scoreboard for the majority of the time.  Goalkeeper Gabby Capone ’14 led that effort, diving left and right to stop the Bullets time and time again over the course of a flurry of shots about halfway through the period.

On the offensive end, the Garnet made the most of their opportunities, getting quality shots on goal with each possession.  Erin Gluck ’16 struck first in the game, putting a pass from Abby Lauder ’15 in the back of the net in the 14th minute.  Despite this, the teams went into halftime tied at one goal apiece.

Going into the break, Nia Jones ’14 said, “Half-time was a time for us to really take a breath and realize that we were not only playing with them…we just had to not let up and leave everything on the field in the second half. ” Gluck added that, “We tried to, instead of playing for 35 minutes, think about playing each five minutes and trying to control the play and score in that five minutes.”

That new focus worked–it was a different game in the second half, but with the same results.  While Swarthmore was outshot in the first half, the Garnet held onto possession longer and outshot Gettysburg in the second.  Gluck struck again in the 44th minute, rebounding off of a shot from Sophia Agathis ’13.  The Garnet nearly had another soon after, when a shot beat the Gettysburg goalkeeper but was swatted away by a quick-thinking defender.

The Bullets knotted the score with 18 minutes to go, and although both teams created some scoring chances, neither could get the ball in the net.  The game went into overtime with the score tied 2-2.

In overtime, Gettysburg got the first shot, but Capone was there for a game-preserving save.  Just seconds later, Jones ran through the entire Gettysburg defense, dishing the ball to Gluck, who completed her hat trick with the sudden-death game-winner.

For her offensive outburst, Gluck earned Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors.  She is just one of several freshman to make an immediate impact this year.  “The freshmen have been key for us this year. They step up in big situations and they work incredibly hard,” said Agathis.  Jones agreed, adding, “They all work so hard during practice and it is definitely evident in the way they play during games.”

The win has huge playoff implications for Swarthmore, which finds itself in contention with just four games to go in conference play.  According to Agathis, “If we win the remaining 4 games we’re automatically in the playoffs. If we go 3-1 our chances are a little less, but it is very much still possible.”  That may sound like a tall order, but as Jones pointed out, the win against Gettysburg puts them in a better position than they were before.

The Garnet can expect close matches for the rest of the season, which seems to be no problem for this team.

Throughout the season, Swarthmore has demonstrated a gritty calmness to come out on top of several close games, not least of which were the last two.  Jones explained, “I think the teams mentality has been very positive in close games like that. Of course, it can be nerve-racking, but we know what needs to be done in order to win, and we know that we are capable of doing it.”

This is a departure from the past for this team, according to Gluck: “Our team in the past from what I have been told struggled when we were down in a game but this year we seem to have a better mentality in such close games.”  The improvement in mentality has shown in the team’s play, as the Garnet’s 8-5 record already matches the team’s total number of wins from last year.

Fall Break will prove to be no break for the Garnet, who have road games against McDaniel and Muhlenberg while the campus rests.  The next home game will come against Bryn Mawr on October 24.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading