JACK WHITE, Special to The Denisonian — After losing NCAC Newcomer of the Year, NFHCA second-team All-American, and NFHCA All-Great Lakes Region first-team selection Lucy Pearsall ‘19, there were questions looming on who would fill her role and expectedly, everyone has.
Madeleine Hunt ‘23 scored the game winner in overtime against the Washington and Lee Generals, walking away victorious 1-0 and getting their first home win of the season. The win moved the Big Red to 4-1 on the season.
Coming off a remarkable 2018 campaign led by attacker Charlotte Godfrey ‘21 and goaltender Teya Adams ‘21. Godfrey finished the season with 9 goals and 24 points, while Adams finished with a .786-win percentage along with having 9 shutouts.
Ultimately, the Denison Big Red field hockey team ended the season with a record of 18-3, defeating the Wooster Fighting Scots in the NCAC Championship game at Deeds Field before falling to the Lynchburg Hornets 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. These accomplishments were not handed to this gifted squad. They earn their success behind the scenes before they take the field on game day.
Every team, every athlete, and every coach always seems to have their own superstitions, traditions, and routines before the cleats hit the turf, but nothing like this group of ladies. In the media we witness athletes across the globe where special cleats, not wash their socks, or even the same mouth guard they’ve chomped on since high school. But no, not this team.
Head Coach PJ Soteriades, a graduate from Ohio University, has coached field hockey at Denison for 19 years. Soteriades explains how for this Big Red field hockey team a song can mean everything.
Before each home game the whole team comes out as a unit singing along to ‘Build Me Up Buttercup.’ With this particular group of athletes, it’s a very unique and unexpected tradition, but it gets the entire team fired up. They laugh, dance, and have a great time being around one another. They even have dance parties in the locker room. Really, it’s those little things that place them into the right mindset.” Odd choice you might say, when really this is how this Big Red team operates. They are energetic, motivated, and a cohesive unit that moves to the beat of their own drum. But, let’s not forget every superior team starts at the top.
History speaks for itself. In the last decade as Head Coach for the Big Red, Soteriades has a combined record of 143-56 equating to a .718-win percentage, along with bringing home 3 NCAC Championships in 2011, 2017, and 2018.
Yes, winning is great. However, Soteriades says she enjoys “getting the front row seat to watch these girls go from becoming a reflection of their parents to ultimately identifying who they are as people, and that is a gift.”
That being said, what goes on in the recruiting process, having generated immense amounts of talented field hockey players for years at Denison? While looking for a strong on the field presence is important, Soteriades primarily searches for kind people.
“I just want kind people. I can teach them field hockey, but with how this team operates, being kind weighs as much as a powerful shot or if they’re blazing fast.”
All in all, when recruiting, Soteriades believes these athletes are set up for success because “this program is more than a team, we’re a family.”
Up next for the Big Red are the Oberlin Yeoman in a home game on Saturday, September 21st on Deeds Field.