The Utica College field hockey team split last weekend after a win against conference opponent Houghton 4-0 and a loss to non-conference opponent Skidmore 8-0.
The Pioneers were 1-1 in conference play when the Houghton game started against UC. Junior transfer Meghan McCormick’s play from the previous two games carried over as she scored the first goal of the game off an assist from senior Tori Couture.
The freshmen on the team continued showing improvement. Rylee Meelan scored the second UC goal of the game. McCormick was credited with the assist as she completed a pass to Meelan through the defender’s legs. UC was about to head in to the first half of play leading 2-0, but freshman Rebecca Kauffman was able to find the back of the cage with 37 seconds left. The Pioneers led 3-0 after the first half.
In the second half of the game the Pioneers were able to grab another goal to increase their lead to four goals. Senior Taylor Lukins fired in the first goal of her career off a rebound shot in the 67th minute. Sophomore Sam Whitehouse and senior Kells Casey combined with three saves in the shutout.
“We played a pretty good game versus Houghton,” Casey said. “We capitalized on our scoring opportunities and our defense did a great job shutting them down, only allowing three shots.”
The win over Houghton proved UC’s toughness after they lost a double overtime game against Nazareth College earlier in the week.
“It shows we are able to bounce back from a tough loss,” senior Colleen Dowling said. “We were hungry for a win and we knew Saturday was a must-win conference game.”
The field hockey team had to have a short memory as they went on the road Sunday to face No. 11 Skidmore College.
“We knew Skidmore was a very good team and we would have to be on our A game the whole time,” Couture said.
Skidmore looked to be too tough for the Pioneers as they scored four goals in the first half of the contest. The Pioneers could not get momentum on their side going into the second half as Skidmore was able to score four more goals. Casey and Whitehouse combined with 21 saves in the net, but it was not enough to stop Skidmore’s firepower.
Despite the tough loss to Skidmore, head coach Sarah Elleman thinks it is a good thing to play the top contenders in the nation.
“It is good to play teams that are the best in Division III,” Elleman said. “We know that we have a long way to go, but our goal is always to be a national contender.”
UC has a five day break until they have to play conference leader St. John Fisher College. The Pioneers look to fix their mistakes from the weekend and establish their defense for a tough conference opponent.
“We had been focusing a lot on our attack,” Elleman said. “Now that we have started scoring goals, we will probably need to solidify our defense again.”
The Pioneers travel to Rochester, New York to face St. John Fisher on Saturday at 1 p.m.