Field hockey scores road upset over No. 17 Syracuse

by Kyle Jazwa | 10/19/04 5:00am

It was supposed to be the toughest test of their season, but the Dartmouth field hockey team passed with flying colors. Facing Syracuse, the 17th-ranked team in the country, in hostile territory, it would have been easy for Dartmouth to give in and accept defeat. Instead, they decided to take this opportunity and transform it into a season-defining 3-1 victory.

Just 56 seconds into the game, Ashley Choren '05 scored, setting the tempo for the rest of the game. Choren said, "[The goal] gave the team momentum and a push right from the start, since we maintained our poise for the rest of the game."

Despite Syracuse's striking back and tying the game up at the 14:08 mark, Dartmouth managed to hold firm and clearly dictate play for the rest game. Abby Brown '07 recorded her first career point with an assist on Allison Welsh '05's go ahead goal with just 26:15 to go in the game. Brown then solidified the lead with her first career goal 12:44 later in the game, blasting one past her former high school teammate, Syracuse's Betsy Wagner.

"It felt awesome," Brown said, "because two of our extremely strong players were unfortunately out with injuries and everyone seemed to step it up, truly demonstrating the great depth we have on this team."

Not only was the offense on fire for Dartmouth, but the defense was nearly unstoppable. Lauren Balukjian '06 notched two saves in the goal, as defenders Shala Byers '07 and Kelly Storer '05 complemented her with a save apiece.

"Our passing combinations were connecting and we were supporting each other all over the field," Balukjian said. "For the most part, the team made my job easy by keeping the ball out of our defensive end. Unfortunately, Syracuse scored their lone goal on a penalty corner which deflected off of my leg on a defensive penalty corner. But to our credit, we didn't let down and continued fighting to the finish."

Dartmouth outperformed Syracuse in nearly all statistical categories, outshooting the Orange 12-6 and gaining the advantage on penalty corners 6-5.

This victory did more than give Dartmouth another mark in the win category; it gave momentum going into a tough last half of the season.

"Coming into this game today, we knew we had nothing to lose and we knew Syracuse would be expecting an easy win," Welsh said. "Knowing [this] gave us all the motivation in the world to play for ourselves and lay it all out there. Everyone stepped it up and all the pieces worked together.

"Winning the game brought back a belief and confidence that we truly haven't felt since Princeton. There couldn't have been a better reminder of the potential our team has. With five games left, we still have plenty more opportunities to create for ourselves, and that's the best part about today's win."

Balukjian said this win could be the key to postseason glory and a possible NCAA tournament berth.

"There is no doubt that if we finish our season strong that we will be in contention for the ECAC tournament, and there is still the possibility of the NCAA," Balukjian said. "I think it's most important that in each game we continue to take steps forward, and do not settle for anything less than a win."

Looking forward to playing UMass Wednesday at home, Dartmouth seems poised to cause some serious damage.

"We don't have control over other teams, just what we do, by going out there and playing hard," Choren said.

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