The Garnet athletic teams didn’t take a break from competition last week, as every team had at least one major event. For the cross-country and field hockey teams, this sets up a thrilling finish to the regular season on Saturday.
Both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in the Princeton Invitational on Oct 13. The level of competition was much higher than usual at the meet, with a field that included several Division I schools.
That fact did not intimidate Jenna Cody ‘16, who led the way for the women with a stellar individual effort, finishing 20th with a time of 22:10. Her teammates crossed the finish line further back in the pack, with Rebecca Hammond ‘13 (82nd, 23:09) and Katie McMenamin ‘16 (151st, 24:07) finishing next. Overall, the team finished 20th in a crowded field.
As a team, the men placed similarly, coming in at 21st overall. A close-knit pack paced the Garnet, as Stuart Russell ‘14, Aidan Dumont-McCaffrey ‘13 and Jonas Oppenheimer ‘15 finished within two seconds of each other, placing 115th, 117th and 120th, respectively.
Because of the level of competition at the meet, the runners were pleased with their results. As Russell pointed out, “We ran in the same meet last year too, so it was exciting to see how much we had improved. Last year, we had two runners under 27 minutes and six runners under 28 minutes. This year, we had six runners under 27 minutes and ten under 28 minutes, and this year [Jacob Phillips ‘13], our fastest runner didn’t even compete in the meet because of an injury.”
He added, “Going into the meet, the game plan was to stick together, run as a pack, and push each other. I think we were definitely able to accomplish that.”
While cross-country was tearing up the course, the field hockey team spent fall break running around the Mid-Atlantic region on a two game road trip. Centennial Conference matches against Muhlenberg and McDaniel did not turn out well, unfortunately, dropping the Garnet to the brink of elimination from the conference playoff picture.
Against McDaniel, Swarthmore found itself in an early hole, giving up three first half goals and needing a frantic comeback. Katie Teleky ‘13 scored in the 12th minute, but that was all the Garnet would be able to muster. That was not for lack of trying though, as the team dominated play and threatened shot after shot. The Green Terror defense came up with 18 saves over the course of the game to preserve their 3-1 win.
It was more of the same when the Garnet traveled to Muhlenberg. Dominant in every aspect of the game but the final score, the Swarthmore offense attempted more than twice as many shots as the Mules’, but the goalkeeper parried each attack. A 22nd minute Muhlenberg goal was all the Mules needed to hang on for a 1-0 win.
The losses, despite dropping the Garnet to eighth place in the Centennial standings, surprisingly did not eliminate the team from playoff contention. Going into the final two games of the season, the Garnet need wins and help to make the Conference playoffs.
With their backs to the wall, the Garnet stepped up on Wednesday, handling Bryn Mawr 5-1 to keep their hopes alive. Nia Jones ‘14 led the offensive attack with a hat trick.
Heading into this weekend, then, field hockey and cross-country both have important competitions. Field hockey set itself up for a do-or-die match as they host #16 Haverford on Saturday. With the upset, Swarthmore stands a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in several years. With a loss, the Garnet still finish with a the most wins and a winning overall season for the first time in recent memory. The match starts at 12 p.m.
Cross-country, on the other hand, hops over to Haverford for the Centennial Conference Championships on Saturday. The meet looks to be promising for both sides. For the men’s team, Russell said he expects the team to run well. “We have a really strong, promising pack and Jacob Phillips, our top finisher from last year, is coming back from [an] injury, so we think we can put together a good performance as a team.” He recognized, though, that it will not be an easy task, pointing out that Haverford is #1, Dickinson is #21, and Johns Hopkins is #27 in the latest USTFCCCA national rankings.
Russell still thinks the team has a chance, though. “Last year, we placed third in the Conference and that is something we definitely feel we can do again. The key will be to keep our second through seventh runners in a really tight pack.”
With Phillips and Cody leading the way, the Garnet have a strong chance at a promising finish. The men run at 11 a.m., and the women run at 12 p.m.