After playoffs upset, field hockey smiles upon performance

Seniors Hayley Beach, Emma Bracken, Sophie Arnold, Flora Crichton-Stuart and Lauren Schmate flash smiles before last collegiate game on Weinberg Field against Skidmore College. Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

Seniors Hayley Beach, Emma Bracken, Sophie Arnold, Flora Crichton-Stuart and Lauren Schmate flash smiles before last collegiate game on Weinberg Field against Skidmore College. Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton
Seniors Hayley Beach, Emma Bracken, Sophie Arnold, Flora Crichton-Stuart and Lauren Schmate flash smiles before last collegiate game on Weinberg Field against Skidmore College. Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

The women’s field hockey team wrapped up another successful season this past week. Its season came to an end on Wednesday, Nov. 2 with a tough 1-3 loss to Skidmore College. Al­though the team did not end up in the Liberty League championship game as they had hoped, they still had a particularly noteworthy season. The Brewers finished up 14-4 overall and 4-2 in the Liberty League, sustaining losses to only William Smith and RPI.

Coach Michael Warari, in his fourth season, helped lead the team to several successful sea­sons and is especially excited about the way this year unfolded.

While Warari was pleased with the team’s early performances, he stated that the team has continued to grow and improve throughout the season. “Our progress was steady from the beginning, and we showed continued improve­ment, which was positive to see on a weekly ba­sis,” Coach Warari noted.

This steady growth throughout the season was key in helping the Brewers finish as the winningest team in Vassar history. Warari point­ed out that the team’s records, in both league and non-conference play, are the program’s best ever and a first of all-time.

During the season, Warari especially focus­es on making sure the team is sticking together through the losses as well as through the wins. He mentioned, “We worked hard for each vic­tory, and our most exciting wins were caused by an exceptional overall team effort, and our toughest losses were because we didn’t play well as a unit.”

In terms of senior leadership and how he thinks the team will shape up next season, Warari is appreciative but also wary of speaking too soon. “We are grateful for the seniors and all their time and commitment to this team and program. It’s too early to talk about next year, since we still have a chance to keep playing in the post season,” he pointed out.

Sophomore Alyssa More returned for her sec­ond season as an influential playmaker on the midfield and defensive end. She finished off the season with seven goals and five assists for a to­tal of 19 points, one of the highest on the team.

More is impressed with how much the team improved as the season progressed. “It’s great to look back to preseason and really appreciate the upward trajectory our season took. From our scrimmages to our Liberty League semi-final, we truly grew in every category,” More stated.

Another standout contributor was sopho­more goalkeeper Paige Amico, who was a strong performer on the field and a major component of the team morale, according to More. “Paige, our goalie, was the helm of our team. Having a goalie you can depend on and trust is such a privilege, but even more so, having a goalie that can communicate with the field players and guide the game with her leadership is an honor,” More elated.

This strong leadership was also carried through the class of five seniors. More men­tioned, “The seniors, with their leadership on and off the field, really set the tone for this sea­son.” She explained, “The five of them created an atmosphere of love and respect for the game and, even more so, each other. This is something that has become the core of the Vassar field hockey program, and something we, as a team, are dedicated to continuing.” Finding a group of seniors who are able to lead by example and set the tone for a dedicated and enthusiastic team is hard to come by and it was truly a blessing for this team.

One of these five seniors is captain Emma Bracken. Bracken has been a strong midfielder for the Brewers over her past four years here at Vassar. She finished off her final season with two goals and six assists, summing up her career stats to a total 25 points.

Bracken reflected on her senior season as one for the books. Although the team failed to make it to the Liberty League championship, she is elated with the way the season went. Bracken noted, “Even though the season didn’t end how any of us anticipated or wanted it to, I think the team performed beautifully. I am unbelievably proud of this team, our ability to rise and how far we’ve come through the course of the sea­son.”

Bracken also noted that the team success was not brought on by any one player but as a unit as a whole. “Every single person on this team brings their own sense of heart, passion and drive,” Bracken stated. “Having 22 leaders who each bring something to the table is what makes this team so special.” The respect for each and every player, regardless of age or position is what makes the team so tight knit and, in turn, leads to success.

Bracken feels she has fulfilled her duty as captain this season. She commented, “I’d like to think that I led by example and helped cre­ate a balance between pushing ourselves and having fun.” Although Bracken is upset to leave the program, she is optimistic for success next season. She pointed out, “I know that all of the underclassmen will step up beautifully and are well equipped to take over the reins. I have the utmost faith in them and am excited to see them do big things.”

Although their regular season and run at a Liberty League title came to an end, the field hockey team had a substantial chance at receiv­ing a large bid for the NCAA tournament due to its great success. Over the weekend, the team was unsure about the fate of their season, and therefore, continued practicing to prepare for NCAAs, provided that they received the bid into the tournament.

Bracken explained, “Waiting to hear about an at large bid is definitely an odd position to be in. Now it’s a waiting game, and feeling virtually re­moved from the process is hard.” However, she insisted, “[The team] would be ecstatic if we got a bid, because we feel as if we have unfinished business.”

Although the team did not receive the bid into the NCAA tournament, this Brewer squad truly proved themselves as a force to be reck­oned with and should be proud of all they ac­complished this fall.

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