After a restful summer, the Vassar field hockey team is determined to dominate competition, surpass last year’s record of 12-6 and claim the Liberty League title. The women are already making headway into these goals as they clinched the 28th Annual Betty Richey Tournament for the third straight time.
On Sept. 2 and 3, Vassar hosted this year’s tournament, featuring Manhattanville College, SUNY Geneseo and Smith College.
In its first contest of the season, Vassar defeated Geneseo 1-0 on Friday as sophomore Mikayla Young reached the back of the net during a penalty corner.
“It felt so good to finally score against Geneseo. Throughout the game we had many opportunities, so when the ball hit the back of the net, I felt both relieved and happy,” Young said. “It was rewarding to score off of a corner because we dedicate so much time in practice to improving them.”
The win moved Vassar into the championship game against Smith, who also advanced to a 1-0 record after beating Manhattanville on Friday.
Vassar’s sophomore class continued to dominate the field during Saturday’s championship. In the 17th minute, Alyssa More fed the ball to Megan Caveny, who then blasted a shot past Smith’s goalkeeper. In the second half Gracie Tavakkol continued this momentum as she scored her first career goal to double the score and secure the tournament win for the Brewers.
Along with their championship title, multiple Brewers earned All-Tournament accolades for their outstanding performance. Senior captain Lauren Shumate, freshman Cristina Lopez and Caveny all received the honor. Meanwhile, sophomore Monica Feeley was named the tournament’s “Most Valuable Player” for her impressive offensive contribution. “I was so excited and completely surprised when they announced it. Betty Richey is such an inspiration to women, so I feel really honored to receive this award,” Feeley said.
While each player on the team contributes in invaluable ways, the sophomore class is clearly one to watch for the Brewers. On behalf of this talented sophomore class, Young elaborated, “Our mentality is to show up everyday in games and practices and improve as a whole. There are 10 of us so we try to bring lots of energy and help the upperclassmen establish a positive, intense tone.”
“Even though we lost some great seniors, their work ethic rubbed off on us, and we try to maintain the high level of field hockey. It feels good to return for the second year,” Young continued. “I have more confidence in our play and myself. I know what our team is capable of and that we can compete with the best teams in the Liberty League.”
After a successful weekend, Vassar faced the Kean State Cougars on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The Brewers opened with dominant play as sophomore Haley Cubell scored in the first 55 seconds of the game. However, Kean fought back and the Cougar’s Krista LaMaina scored to send the game into overtime, where Vassar unfortunately fell 1-2. This was team’s first home field loss since Oct. 31, 2015.
Despite the loss, Vassar did not let up in the game against the College of Brockport on Sept. 10. Many girls contributed to the Brewers’ 9-0 annihilation of the Golden Eagles. Lopez, Young, More, Haley Cubell and sophomore Emily Poehlin all had one goal apiece, while Gracie Tavakkol and senior Hayley Beach each had a pair of goals.
Now 3-1 on the season, the team is confident in its abilities going forward. “Our greatest strength is in our expectations of each other and ourselves. My teammates are very good at holding each other accountable and pushing each other to work as hard as possible,” senior captain Sophie Arnold explained. “When we hold each other to high standards, our goals seem that much more attainable.”
In the weeks to come, Vassar will face challenging competition, including Western Connecticut State, Ramapo College, William Patterson University and Montclair State University in non-conference play.
The Brewers kick off Liberty League play on Saturday, Sept. 24 against Saint Lawrence, who they bested 4-1 in the 2015 season. This year, the Brewers are ranked fourth in the preseason poll behind William Smith University, Skidmore College and the University of Rochester.
“We are most looking forward to playing Skidmore this year. They are a challenging team and always make us play to our full potential,” Feeley said. “Also, we are playing them at home this season which is making us even more excited about the game.” The Brewers will battle the Thoroughbreds on Vassar’s Senior Day Saturday, Oct. 15.
While the team looks for redemption against Skidmore, the Brewers’ motto is to focus on the present. “We are trying to take it one game at a time, one practice at a time, achieving small goals that will contribute to our larger goal of the Liberty League championship and NCAAs,” Arnold expressed.
Coach Michael Wawari reiterates the team’s mentality and adds, “How we approach every game is what is going to define how we are going to finish.” Coach Wawari looks forward to a successful season as the women continue to bring tons of energy and as “everybody continues to step up every single day.”
Vassar looks to continue improving as they take on Ramapo College on Saturday at home.