Defense is team’s backbone

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Kelsey Gula ‘14 fights for possession of the ball.

Allison Dadouris

Photo courtesy of goleopards.com

Lafayette Field Hockey went 1-1 last weekend, playing Central Michigan and University of Delaware. Saturday afternoon the Leopards faced Central Michigan (2-2). The first half started with a goal from Kristin Heaney ‘14, but it was not long before CMU tied the score. Hanna Sotiropoulos ‘14 scored a second goal for the Leopards but it was quickly matched by CMU, ending the first half tied 2-2.

“The first half wasn’t our best performance,” Sotiropoulos said. “We really weren’t playing our game.”

After a motivating half-time talk, the team went back out ready to win. Sotiropoulos scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Heaney.

“We are a great team, but it’s not enough just to know that,” Jessica Deutsch ‘15 said. “We have to go out there every time and play like we’re the best, and that’s what we did in the second half.”

That momentum carried over to the next day when Lafayette faced Delaware. The Blue Hens scored in the first 10 minutes, but junior Kelsey Mead matched their goal only a few minutes later. Delaware started the second half with the only goal of the half. Retrieving a rebound off Deutsch, Delaware managed a second attempt that made it into the goal.

“We’re really working on getting the ball in the net,” Sotiropoulos said. “It doesn’t matter how many shots we take if we cant finish. It’s one of our biggest goals for this season.”

Mead and Jenna Seybert ‘15 both had shots on goal, but were unable to get them in the net.

Deutsch made one save in the win against CMU and one against Delaware, and let in four goals this weekend.

“You just can’t think about it when they score on you,” Deutsch said. “You still have a game to play and a team that’s counting on you. After the game you can reflect on everything and figure out what you need to fix for next time, but you can’t let it get to you during the game.”

“Jess is a brick wall,” Brianna Barry ‘15 said. “Our defense is strong and always in control. Their constant communication really allows for them to move as a unit.”

Deutsch leads the defense as the final line of command. In front of her are juniors Brittany Blass and Jenna Seybert. Both Blass and Seybert have been strong assets to the defense since their freshman year. Deutsch, who began starting halfway through her freshman season, started over a junior to play against some of the country’s highest ranked teams, including UNC (currently ranked #1).

“Jenna has been really consistent and Brit has been on her game,” Barry said. “Not only do we rely on them to keep the ball out of the net defensively, but they’re involved in our offensive corners too. They are such a big asset to the team.”

In addition to the three returners, Hanna Millen ’16 is starting for the first time this season. While she got playing time last year, this year she is expected to rise to the same level expected of the returning trio.

“I feel so confident with Brittany and Jenna in front of me. We’ve been working together for three years now and we really have it down,” Deutsch said. “Hanna is young but she’s already stepping up on the field.”

The team takes the road this weekend, playing UConn at noon on Sunday.