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Field hockey boasts second half comeback against Saints

From+left%2C+junior+striker+Emma+Garver+transitions+the+ball+downfield+as+sophomore+striker+Caroline+Hamilton+defends+toward+the+sideline.
Ana Gavilanes
From left, junior striker Emma Garver transitions the ball downfield as sophomore striker Caroline Hamilton defends toward the sideline.

The Ithaca College field hockey team bolstered its position at the top of Liberty League standings with a 2–1 victory over the St. Lawrence University Saints on Oct. 4 at Higgins Stadium. The win improved the Bombers’ overall record to 9–3, sustaining an undefeated 3–0 record in-conference. 

The Saints opened play with a full-field press into Bomber territory, wasting no time in the midfield. However, they could not find a hole in the Bombers’ defensive line until about halfway through the frame. Sophomore midfielder Mayson Blondek was first to find the cage 6:25 into competition, putting the Saints on the board with a 1–0 lead. Following the initial point, each team earned a penalty corner apiece, but the remainder of the quarter saw no additional scoring.

In a change of pace from the previous quarter, the second saw entirely offensive play from the Bombers. The squad in blue notched nine shots and three penalty corners throughout the frame, completely shutting out the Saints in both statistics. However, St. Lawrence’s defense was impenetrable, denying each of the Bombers’ scoring attempts. The quarter closed without score, sending the competition into halftime with the Saints up by one.

The Bombers exploded into the second half, wasting no time to even the playing field. Junior striker Juliana Valli tacked a Bombers’ point onto the board only 55 seconds into play. The goal, assisted by junior striker Natalie Descalso, marked Valli’s seventh of the season and ninth of her career.

The Bombers’ lockdown defense managed to shut out the Saints once again, allowing them zero shots on the frame. However, there was no additional scoring in the quarter, closing out in a 1–1 tie.

The fourth quarter saw continued offensive dominance from the Bombers, but Saints junior goalkeeper Cara Vredenburg seemed impossible to beat. The Bombers earned seven consecutive penalty corners within a four-minute window, but each of them was denied by Vredenburg. 

The eighth penalty corner for the Bombers, however, was a quick and seemingly effortless execution. Off sophomore striker Brenna Schoenfeld’s injection, Descalso rocketed a drive from the right side of the arc that planted itself deep into the left corner of the cage. The 16-yard shot put the Bombers in the lead, 2–1, with eight minutes remaining in regulation. 

The clock continued to wind down as the Bombers continued to pressure St. Lawrence’s defense, soon solidifying the Bombers’ sixth-straight victory.

After completely shutting out the Saints in the shooting and penalty corner categories during the second and third quarters, junior defender Bella McCollister said the feat can be credited to sticking to the team’s classic playstyle. 

“It’s definitely a whole team effort,” McCollister said. “In the first half I thought we played down to them, but when we switched our mindset from the first half to the second and upped the intensity, you could definitely see we were the better team.”

Despite 13 penalty corners and 35 total shots, the Bombers only executed once off one settled play and one corner. Head coach Kaitlyn Wahila said although her athletes have been successful in playmaking and creating offensive opportunities, finishing in those windows will come with continued time and practice.

“Our overall execution on our corners today was solid except for, of course, finishing,” Wahila said. “I give their goalie credit because she really stood on her head sometimes to make saves, she was great today. … In terms of overall efficiency, I’m happy. It’s just actually finishing that we’ll continue to work on — we certainly played against a really strong defensive corner unit.”

The Bombers will next take on the SUNY New Paltz Hawks in a non-conference matchup at 4 p.m. Oct. 10 at Higgins Stadium.

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About the Contributors
Tess Ferguson
Tess Ferguson, Former Sports Editor
Ana Gavilanes, Photographer
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