The field hockey team fell into an early hole and couldn’t recover, as it it suffered its third straight loss in a 6-1 defeat to Empire 8 Conference rival Stevens Institute of Technology (5—4) this afternoon at Higgins Stadium.
On a blustery, rainy day that saw dew points dip to the mid-30s, the Bombers (2—6) brought intensity that was lacking in their game against SUNY-Oneonta on Wednesday. But the Blue and Gold once again struggled to turn opportunities into goals and could not keep up with the Ducks’ potent offense.
Stevens sophomore forward Rachel Chavez opened the scoring with her first of two goals on the day at 19:07. Junior forward Mary Nikish — who also scored two goals — lifted a shot from the right side past Bombers junior goalkeeper Kelly Singleton to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead at 24:38. Stevens would carry that 2-0 lead into the halftime break.
The South Hill squad came out for the second half with a rejuvenated effort, but still struggled to put the ball in the cage. Stevens senior forward Jillian Price made the Bombers pay when she snuck in a shot from outside the left post to give the Ducks a commanding 3-0 lead.
This was the third straight game that the Bombers have trailed early by at least two goals, which coincides with the team’s three game losing streak. Sophomore midfielder Katie Kennedy said her squad cannot be discouraged even after falling behind.
“We just need to put more shots on goal in order to score,” Kennedy said. “Our objective is always to score first, but when we get behind a few goals like that we can’t let our heads hang low. There’s still always a chance for us to win.”
Sophomore midfielder Sam English finally stopped the bleeding for the Bombers when she fired a wrist shot off a rebound from 16 yards away with 26 minutes remaining to close the gap to 3-1. Stevens refused to be denied however, tacking on three more goals in the final third of the contest to put the game out of reach.
It was a tough loss to swallow for the Bombers, especially against a heated conference rival like Stevens. Sophomore defender Emily Lash said the focus in upcoming practices will be clearing the ball upfield.
“I think some of us got flustered and we weren’t playing our game throughout — we weren’t connecting,” Lash said. “[Stevens] has a very strong offense so we were trying to get the ball out of the defensive zone and push it upfield. We just have to go back to basics and work on our channeling and working together as a team.”
Head Coach Tracy Houk said her squad provided more intensity than in the team’s past two losses. However, she said the Bombers still need to put together a complete performance in order to pick up another victory.
“I think we’re still working on getting consistency out there,” Houk said. “There’s moments where everything is connecting and moments when it’s not, and that’s where they took advantage and scored.”
That complete effort will need to include improvements in the opening minutes, which Lash said is the Bombers’ number one focus heading forward.
“Our biggest goal right now is to score first,” Lash said. “If we can do that we’ll have such a better mentality and we’ll get everyone riled up.”
The Bombers will kick off a two game road trip at 4 p.m. Tuesday when they play SUNY-Brockport.