Field hockey takes two straight battles

by Haley Gordon | 9/20/15 5:27pm

Thanks to an electric offensive effort, the field hockey team came away with two non-conference wins this weekend. On Friday, the Big Green, led by a seven-point, three-goal performance from Julia Donald ’18, dominated Sacred Heart University 8-1. In a Sunday afternoon matchup, Dartmouth battled all game with Bryant University in a much tighter affair before exploding in the final 10 minutes to come from behind and steal the victory from the Bulldogs, 3-2.

During Friday’s match against Sacred Heart, Donald sparked the Big Green’s offense by slotting the first goal after just five minutes of play. Dartmouth scored thrice more in the first half on the strength of two more goals from Donald and one from Rebecca Hu ’15 for a 4-0 lead.

The second half opened with another flurry of offensive action, culminating with a goal from Eliza Becker ’16, who sent a shot from the top of the circle through a crowd that found its way to the back of the net. The next strike came from Anna Ewasechko ’18 just under five minutes later off a tip from a corner play.

“I think it was a great week of practice, and we really focused on capitalizing on opportunities,” Becker said of the week leading up to the game. “It was a whole team effort, and everyone did their job to put the ball in the net.”

Sacred Heart kept pressure on the Big Green, but failed to translate its efforts into points on the scoreboard. With less than a minute to play, Dartmouth extended its lead to 8-0 after a goal from Morgan Philie ’18.

The Big Green nearly pulled off a shut out, but in the last seconds of the game Sacred Heart got on the board with a goal off a corner play.

“We’ve had one star in the past,” Brooke Van Valkenburg ’16 said. “This year it’s really just like a lot of stars as a team. Each person can score. Every single one can do it.”

The Big Green kicked off Sunday’s game against Bryant with intense man-to-man pressure. Scoring chances arrived quickly, but the Dartmouth players, despite getting some shots off, failed to finish early.

Failure to finish became an issue through out the game, as the women trailed Bryant for the majority of the game. The Big Green would ultimately have 17 corner plays, and 22 shots, before getting on the board.

Bryant’s Victoria Danby scored just over seven minutes into the first after a costly defensive turnover from the Big Green. After play resumed Dartmouth quickly earned a set piece in the offensive end, although nothing came of it.

“I think a few games before we’ve let frustration get the best of us,” Becker said. “But I think we’ve learned from those mistakes and really stayed focused on this game. We knew we had good opportunities and that one was going to fall.”

Bryant did not spend the first half without additional scoring opportunities, but a combination of good defensive recoveries and quick saves by goalkeeper Paige Duffy ’17 eliminated the threats. Duffy ended the game with four saves and two goals allowed.

Dartmouth continued to dominate the tempo, but found itself down 1-0 going into the second half.

The second half opened with a reinvigorated the team, itching to get on the board. After another unsuccessful Big Green offensive push, Bryant struck back with a two-man breakaway, leading to a set piece and eventual goal.

The Big Green hustled and produced several corner opportunities. Still unable to put a point on the board, head coach Amy Fowler called a time out with eight minutes and 20 seconds remaining in the game. Just after play resumed, Van Valkenburg connected with the back of the net, scoring high off the top bar and finally putting the Big Green on the board down 2-1.

“I think we just changed our mentality,” Ewasechko said. “We knew we had the skill there and the pieces just weren’t fitting at first, but once we [used each other] we just became a force.”

Fired up with the first goal, the Big Green team managed to keep the ball in Bryant’s defensive zone, forcing mistakes with high pressure. After yet another set piece, Ewasechko played the ball in directly to Hu who slotted a shot low into the corner to tie the game with less than four minutes left to play.

Aggressive pressure from Donald forced a Bryant turnover, which led to another goal for Dartmouth, scored by Van Valkenburg and assisted by Becker. With only a couple minutes left to play, Dartmouth maintained possession and let the time wind down, concluding an exciting come-from-behind victory, scoring all three goals in the final 10 minutes of the match.

Dartmouth will take the Chase AstroTurf Field again on Sunday against Princeton University for their Ivy League opener.