Shneider’s Goal Lifts Field Hockey Over Maine

Atit Amin

Heading into the Patriot League Tournament, which will take place this weekend at Tyler’s Field, the Colgate Raider field hockey team is right where it wants to be – confident and upbeat. Following back-to-back games against nationally-ranked opponents, the Raiders got yet another opportunity to take on a tough opponent. Although not ranked, Maine nevertheless had a successful season, posting a 13-6 record heading into Sunday’s matchup. The record meant nothing to the Raiders, however, as Colgate earned its 11th victory of the season in dramatic fashion, winning 3-2 in overtime. To ensure the regular season would end successfully, the seniors on the team went to every extreme to win the game. However, it was first-year Natali Plesniarski who ignited the offensive attack with a perfect pass to set up classmate Lauren Remkus in the 27th minute. Plesniarski’s first assist of the season enabled Remkus to score her third goal of the season. For the remainder of the first half, the Raiders were out-shot and had fewer penalty corner attempts than Maine, but still headed into halftime with a 1-0 advantage. Both teams came out of halftime on the offensive but it was the Black Bears who struck first in the second half to tie the game at one, when Shaunessy Saucier scored on a scramble in front of the cage in the 51st minute. As they have done all season, the Raiders got right back on track and maintained the pressure on Maine. After Colgate was awarded a penalty stroke, head coach Cathy Foto immediately substituted senior Sally Mazzochi and she did not let her coach or her team down. Mazzochi converted for her third goal of the season, enabling the Raiders to take a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute. But the Black Bears would not die, as the home team tied the game once again in the 59th minute on another scramble in front of the cage to send the game into overtime. At the end of regulation, Maine had far exceeded the Raiders in shots, 34-16, as well as penalty corners, 14-7. Despite these advantages, the Raiders received remarkable play from sophomore goalie Jacque DeMarco, who made 13 significant saves. In overtime, with each team only able to play six players aside from their respective goalie, it ultimately came down to the team with the greater desire to win. That question was answered in the second minute of overtime, as senior tri-captain Ashley Schneider scored the game-winning goal, her 16th of the season. With seven seniors and three juniors on the team, the upperclassmen were not about to allow the final regular season game to slip away. For the first time in five years, the Raiders will participate in the Patriot League Tournament. This could not be a better way for the seniors to conclude their collegiate careers as well as for the first-years to begin theirs. “Our whole team has worked so hard this season and we all want this win so bad,” senior tri-captain Courtney Collins said. “This weekend is about putting together all the pieces and not giving up. Last time against Holy Cross each half we scored within the first few minutes. I think coming out hard again and catching them on their heels will play to our advantage once again.” Although this will be the second time the Crusaders and Raiders will meet this season, Schneider stated that the team would not be doing things any differently. “We are not preparing any differently than the first time,” she said. “The only change we have made is in every drill to exploit what we have gotten to see first hand, when we played them. Obviously, everyone is excited and nervous, but the upperclassmen have worked hard to keep practice running smoothly by a strong mixture of hard work and fun. Our league is very competitive this year, and I think it says a lot that we have accomplished a second seed. However, we are not going to take second place and be happy. Every girl on this team wants more.” The first-years on the team are also excited for their first taste of postseason action.”[I am] looking forward towards [dealing with] nerves, adrenaline, and everything else,” Plesniarski said. “These are the feelings that make us win. If I don’t have these feelings, there is something wrong. I get chills thinking about it.” “There will be a number of emotions,” Remkus conceded. “However, the maturity and togetherness of this team is incredible, and any anxiety issues that may exist will be offset by our team spirit and enthusiasm. It has truly been an amazing season thus far, but our competitive drive will overcome any fears that might exist and allow us to push even farther for a championship.” As the second seed, Colgate will face off with Holy Cross, with the game set to start at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The winner of that game will face the winner of the American-Lehigh game on Sunday for the Patriot League Championship.