After splitting its first four games, the Georgetown field hockey team (2-2) heads into its 2015 campaign with an optimistic outlook. With standout athletes such as junior forward Aliyah Graves-Brown and junior goalkeeper Rachel Skonecki leading the team, the Hoyas are working to improve their offensive production in order to earn better results in the Big East.
The Hoyas began their season with two consecutive losses at home to Davidson (1-2) and Rider (4-0) in late August. Though Georgetown had solid opportunities throughout the game against Davidson, the Wildcats capitalized on a rebound to score the sole goal of the game.
“I thought we pressured Davidson pretty well in the first half. We turned them over a lot in their defensive end; we just couldn’t execute the opportunities we were given,” Head Coach Shannon Soares said to GUHoyas.com.
Though the Hoyas’ next game was also a loss, they were able to start fresh and earn two wins in their next two games. Georgetown defeated La Salle (2-2) 1-0, marking the Hoyas’ first victory over the Explorers since 2010. Junior defender Molly Thompson scored the only goal of the game at the 31:05 mark in the second half.
The Hoyas used this momentum to notch their second victory over St. Francis (1-3) Sunday afternoon in a 4-2 win. Four Hoyas scored in the game; Graves-Brown, junior defender Devin Holmes, senior forward Sarah Butterfield and freshman forward Helena Masiello.
“I was pleased with the adjustments that we were able to make from Friday’s game against La Salle moving into today’s game against a tough St. Francis squad,” Soares said to GU Hoyas. “I thought we capitalized on a lot of the opportunities in our attacking circle, which gave us moments like Aliyah Graves-Brown’s goal.”
After those four contests, Georgetown’s nonconference record is third-best among Big East teams, behind 2014 NCAA champion UConn and Old Dominion. Temple, Villanova and Providence are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in the Big East, respectively.
Thus far in the season, Skonecki has recorded impressive statistics as the Hoyas’ goalkeeper. She has registered seven saves per game for the Hoyas and currently boasts a .875 save percentage. Last season, Skonecki started 17 games in net as a sophomore for the Hoyas and had a .667 save percentage. She also recorded four shutouts, ranking third all time in Georgetown field hockey history.
Though juniors and seniors have the most experience heading into the 2015 season, the Hoyas have a team full of varying experience levels. Six new freshmen joined the roster this season, including Masiello, midfielder Sam Hickey, defender Katie Maransky, forward Hannah Sargent, forward Maddie Oswald and goalkeeper Chloe Verwiel.
Masiello, a three-sport standout at Columbia High School, is one of the key additions in 2015. She was selected as Big East Rookie of the Week and starts for the Hoyas in the forward position.
Returning seniors include forward Callie Hiner, who started in eight games last season, and midfielder Louise Chakejain, who had a .600 shot on goal percentage last season.
Graves-Brown has been consistently reliable on the offensive end for Georgetown. She appeared in all 18 games of her sophomore season, starting in 17 of them. She also led the team with six goals and added three assists in 2014.
Georgetown will compete in a home game against VCU (1-3) this Friday and will play in its first big East game against Providence (0-4) Oct. 2. In a field of five other teams, the Hoyas have set a goal of winning at least two Big East games this season, which would qualify them for the Big East Tournament, the team’s ultimate long-term goal. Georgetown will face all of its Big East opponents in October.