The Sacred Heart University (SHU) field hockey team defeated Colgate University on Sunday, Oct. 16 by a score of 4-3. The win marked the first of the year for the Pioneers, who have struggled greatly throughout the 2022 season, falling short in each of their first 13 games.
The much-needed victory placed them into the win column for the first time all season, a huge morale-boost for the program. Yet even in tough times, Sacred Heart’s perseverance has never faltered, a source of pride for head coach Sydney Van Der Merwe.
“It’s been a hard season, but the girls have never given up. They have come out to every single practice, every game, working hard,” said Van Der Merwe. “I’m very happy and so proud of them for winning on Sunday. They deserved the win.”
An offensive flurry from sophomore forward Aine Keaney propelled the Pioneers to victory. She tallied an impressive three goals in the contest, the first hat-trick of her career.
Two of her goals were assisted by senior forward Ally Frampton, who offered high praise for Keaney and the speed that she brings to the offense.
“She’s always all over the field. Playing with her makes my life so much easier,” said Frampton. “She was able to put three goals in the net, which helped us secure that win.”
On the defensive end, SHU was led by sophomore goalie Samantha Maresca. She was a key contributor for the team, accumulating five saves in the outing.
The game was a bright spot in what has been a tough season for the Sacred Heart squad. While talented, the team’s youth and inexperience has been apparent since early on.
“Since it’s a young team, everyone is still sort of building that confidence on the field,” said Maresca.
The majority of SHU’s roster is composed of first-year starters; a major factor in many of their offensive woes. Early on, they struggled with finding consistent production, especially during conference matchups where experience is vital.
Through their first 14 games, the Pioneers had been outscored by 39 goals, and had only converted on 12.8 percent of their shots.
This lack of execution during scoring opportunities has been the team’s biggest weakness thus far, and something they will look to improve upon in the coming games.
It’s difficult to pull yourself out of a losing streak, but the Pioneers have finally done it, and are now hoping to close out their season with a string of victories. They have faced adversity at every corner, and have refused to quit even through the hard times.
“We’re very ready. After Sunday’s win, we’re much more ready than we have been,” said Keaney. “We now know how it feels to win and know what it takes to win.”
With just two games remaining, Sacred Heart hopes to end the season on a strong note. They are determined to chalk up some more wins and set up a culture of success for the program’s bright future.
“Being a part of this team is a lot more than goals, records, or stats,” Frampton said. “We’re like a big family, and no matter the record, it’s always been a pleasure to be on this team.”
The Pioneers extended their winning streak to two games on Oct. 21, beating Stonehill College 4-2, before losing a close 2-1 game to Merrimack College on Oct. 23. Their Senior Day game is on Oct. 28 when they host Saint Francis University at 7 p.m. Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.
SHU Athletics contributed to this article.