July 25, 2011

2010 UMW Field Hockey in Review

In a season that began with two of its top returning players lost to injury, the 2010 University of Mary Washington field hockey team nevertheless battled to 14 wins and gained the program’s first Capital Athletic Conference championship since 1993.

 The Eagles started the year with one of the toughest schedules in the nation, facing three nationally-ranked opponents on the road in their first four contests. After falling at Lynchburg College in the opener, the Eagles dropped a 2-1 decision at top-ranked Salisbury before defeating Bridgewater College and falling at sixth-ranked Lebanon Valley College.

 UMW then started to build momentum, blanking Capital Athletic Conference foes Hood College and Wesley College and then winning two of its next three games, with wins over Frostburg State University and Eastern Mennonite University. After splitting a pair of contests, the Eagles fell on the road at \#7 Christopher Newport, 3-1.

 The Eagles bounced back the next day to topple Virginia Wesleyan College, 4-0, and that would spark a memorable run for the Eagles all the way to the NCAA Tournament. UMW returned home from fall break with home wins over York College and Roanoke College, before defeating Stevenson University on the road in a conference tilt.

 A tough 1-0 loss at Homecoming to St. Mary’s provided a spark, as the team ended the regular season with a 4-2 win over a tough Randolph-Macon College team on the road, and set its sights on the conference title.

 Seeded third in the conference bracket, the Eagles drew Stevenson, whom they had defeated in overtime during the regular season, in the first round. The rematch was not as close as the Eagles scored four times in a 4-2 victory over the Mustangs.

 Next up was the rematch with St. Mary’s whom the Eagles lost to in the final minutes during the regular season despite outshooting and gaining a large advantage in penalty corners in the first matchup. This time, a Kristen Haynor penalty stroke in the seventh minute of play was the difference, as the veteran Eagle defense, led by seniors Nicole Conti, Heidi Sheehan, Haynor, and Chrissy Bowdren were equal to the task in a 1-0 shutout over the Seahawks.

 On the other side of the bracket, fourth-seeded Wesley College topped Salisbury, so the Eagles would host the Wolverines for the conference crown.

 As in the first meeting between the two, the Eagles scored once in each half in a 2-0 victory as All-CAC juniors Kaitlyn Ripley and Morgan Jones provided the scoring and the defense threw another shutout. UMW closed the year with a first round loss at the NCAA Tournament in Salisbury.

 Jones led the Eagles in scoring in 2010, with 15 goals and 10 assists, while Ripley added 11 goals and four assists. Freshman Caitlin Baker stood out on both ends of the field in gaining the CAC Rookie of the Year award, while seniors Kristen Haynor and Heidi Sheehan were also named to the all-conference squads. In addition, Coach Hall gained the CAC Coach of the Year award for the fifth time.