Field Hockey Learning Tough Lessons

Over the past week, the struggles for the Raider field hockey team have grown. Nevertheless, the Raiders still have a chance to redeem themselves as the bulk of their Patriot League season awaits them.

Sticking to their mantra of scoring early, the Raiders got on the board first against Holy Cross, 17 minutes into the contest. Their score was the result of senior co-captain Dana Shaner’s seventh goal of the year. Thereafter, Colgate could generate a steady balance of offense and defense; however, it was only able to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. Holy Cross had its chances, but could not capitalize off its four corners against junior goalkeeper Jacque DeMarco.

In the second half, the Raiders’ balance completely fell apart yet again. In the 17 minutes it took Colgate to score its goal in the first half, Holy Cross answered with three second-half goals in the same time span.

First-year defender Kaley Zaharris believes that the team perhaps lacks the necessary cohesion between offense and defense.

“Part of our problem recently has been that our defensive and offensive units aren’t connecting,” Zaharris said. “The offense will dominate during part of the half and then the defense will play really well, but we’re having trouble staying strong for the duration of each half.”

In the team’s next game, Brown handed the Raiders their sixth loss of the year, 4-0, in the Raiders second-to-last non-league match of the year.

The game got off to an auspicious start for both teams, battleing for the first 16 minutes of the game with neither side drawing blood. However, the next five minutes of the contest determined the game. The Bears scored three goals in this interval, with two goals coming from Samantha Lloyd, and they did not look back. Brown set the tempo from the start, dominating the first half and never allowing the Raiders to get into their game.

The Raiders continued to battle, but it was not enough, as Brown tacked on another goal in the 51st minute, which essentially put the game out of reach. Colgate was thoroughly out-shot, 26-11, and also had fewer penalty corners, 7-3.

“The most important thing was to keep maintain our level of energy and show ourselves that we could play through the frustration that sometimes evolves on the field,” Remkus said.”We never gave up and that, in turn, provided us with hope to continue working hard.”

The Raiders’ struggles continued last Wednesday night, as the team suffered a disheartening defeat at the hands of Syracuse. For the fifth time in the last six games, the Raiders also lost by more than two goals.

In their penultimate home match of the year, the Raiders were overmatched by the Orange, who won, 5-1, at Tyler’s Field.

In an attempt to reverse its fortunes, the Raider offense tried to establish itself early and dictate the style of the game. To its credit, the Syracuse defense was strong and denied the Raiders’ initial penalty corners.

“This game was a bad measure of what our field hockey team is about,” first-year midfielder Laura Flisnik said.”We unfortunately handed a win to them by not doing what we should have.

“We did not execute well physically and also we showed a lack of discipline mentally.Credit can be awarded to Syracuse’s team for taking advantage of our mistakes but that game was truly disappointing and a low point of the season.”

Subsequently, the Orange fed off the play of its defense and were able to penetrate deep into Raider territory. The Orange invasion led to two goals, digging the Raiders into a deep hole.

Prior to halftime, Colgate reduced the deficit when sophomore forward Natali Plesniarski scored her third goal of the year. Syracuse answered right back with a score of its own, two minutes later, to post a 3-1 lead heading into the half. Yet again, the porous Raider defense created a gap that was too wide for the offense to overcome.

The second half was much of the same from the Raiders, while Syracuse simply continued its overwhelming performance. The Orange were efficient on offense, which was evident in 25 percent of its penalty corners, that resulted in goals. In other words, the Orange beat DeMarco twice more in the second half to increase the lead to 5-1.

Once more, the Raiders were unable to put together a consistent offensive flow.

“The inconsistency in our offense is a result from the team’s conflicting effort to work as one unit,” Flisnik said. The highlights and success of our offense is a team thing and during the moments where we are lacking unity, is when our offense falls apart.”

As a result, the Raiders had to rely upon their defense to keep them in the game and lately, that has also become a breaking point. Case in point: last year through 12 games, the Raider defense allowed only 19 goals. This season, although there are three new first-years, there are also three stalwarts and combined with DeMarco, this season’s defense has allowed 39 goals.

Last Saturday, Bucknell became the latest team to come to Tyler’s Field and hand the Raiders a loss, beating the Raiders by a score of 3-2.

True to form, the Raiders dug themselves into an early hole, allowing the Bison to get on the board five minutes into the contest. Nonetheless, Colgate was able to quickly respond when the first-year tandem of Flisnik and Amanda Gilmore hooked up. Thereafter, both teams tightened up their defense until the Raiders were able to strike again. Four minutes prior to intermission, Shaner recorded her ninth goal of the year to give the Raiders the lead as well as momentum heading into halftime.

For the Raiders, the formula is simple: carry over the aggressive and successful play from the first half to the second. Obviously, it is much easier said than done. Colgate’s defense kept the Bison off the scoreboard for the first 24 minutes of the second half. Then, the Raiders quickly fell apart and Bucknell scored the game-tying and winning goals in a span of eight minutes to seal the win.

“Again, it came down to executing consistently and more importantly, executing at an even higher level when so much is at stake,” Foto said. “Being disciplined enough to do things consistently for 70 minutes is still challenging for us.”

For the struggling Raiders, time is running out on its season with only three more Patriot League matches to follow. In the final home game of the year, the women will play one of those league matches tomorrow against Lafayette.