Offense wins games, defense wins championships.
The Denison women’s field hockey team hopes that monicker rings true after completing conference play undefeated on Saturday. It was the third time in team history that they won the North Coast Athletic Conference with an undefeated record.
True to form all season, the Big Red finished the last game with a shutout, topping Kenyon 2-0 on Deeds Field to close out regular season play. According to Liza Higley ‘21, the defensive play has been an entire team effort, not just the strong play of the back line.
“This year’s team has a unique ‘all-in’ mentality that has allowed our defensive success to come from a total team effort. We have been focusing a lot on supporting one another through recovery and overlapping positions, and while we do have an extremely strong defensive line, our best plays are always when our midfield and forward line recover to help out,” commented Higley.
Also important for the team was the play of goalkeeper Teya Adams ‘21. She saved all six shots she saw on the day. She upped her save percentage to 81% in what has been a strong year for her.
While the defense has been strong, that’s only half of the monicker. The offense has had a strong year as well, tallying 45 goals in 18 regular season games. The last two, against Kenyon, came off of goals from Alyssa Bahel ‘19 and Caroline Little ‘20 off of a penalty corner.
As great as the offense has been, there are some things that they are looking to improve upon ahead of tournament play.
“Our team has been focusing on maintaining intensity and making the most of offensive opportunities. Throughout the season we’ve see extremely high stats when it comes to shots, but not as many as we would’ve liked have found the back of the cage. We’ve focused a lot of our efforts on picking up post balls and eliminating opposing goalkeepers to capitalize on scoring opportunities,” Higley said.
Last year, the team lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Washington & Lee. The loss is still burned into the brains of the returning players, and while the team enjoyed a fantastic regular season, they are not looking to stop the strong season here. They want to build on the success from the last two years.
“We have our eyes set on winning the NCAC championship title and making big strides in the NCAA tournament, and the entire team is very motivated to see how far we can go,” Higley said.
The 2-0 win over Kenyon was also senior day for the team, as they honored four seniors who have been integral to the team’s success over the past four years. Alyssa Bahel, Virginia Hamilton, Lucy Pearsall, and Kat Swan have been important in previous seasons, but also play large roles on this year’s iteration of DU field hockey.
All four seniors have tallied at least three points on the year and have appeared in all eighteen games.
Higley had nothing but positive things to say about the seniors.
“Our senior class has helped to set such a positive tone this season and has made this team such a fun team to be apart of. They have set such great examples for all of us in their enthusiasm and dedication, and through their leadership, our team has grown very close which has translated to a lot of success on the field as well,” Higley said.
Up next for the team is round one of the NCAC tournament on Wednesday, October 31 against Wittenberg at home.