Although most Georgetown students are just getting back into the groove of life at school, the school’s field hockey team has been preparing for weeks for what they hope will be the team’s first winning season in 10 years. Led by veteran Head Coach Tiffany Hubbard, the team will look to take the Big East conference by surprise with its pool of young talent.
“We have a really young team this year,” Hubbard said. “They’re young, but they’re really talented. I think this is the most talented team I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The Hoyas feature eight freshmen this year, while 13 players return from last year’s squad. Eight of the team’s returning players made appearances in at least 13 games, but only two of these players are seniors.
Georgetown (0-2, 0-0 Big East) opened its season on Aug. 30 at the University of Maryland’s Field Hockey Complex with agame against Davidson (2-0, 0-0 NorPac). This match marks the third consecutive time that Georgetown has opened its season against Davidson, and for the third straight year, the Wildcats again proved to be too much for the Hoyas to handle. Davidson senior Tyler McFayden put her team ahead 22 minutes into the match, and although the Hoyas nearly tied the game shortly thereafter, they were unable to convert one of the few scoring opportunities on the day. Five goals later, the Wildcats went home with a 6-0 victory, handing the Hoyas their first loss of the young season.
Two days later, the team looked to pick up its first win of the season against Rider (2-0, 0-0 MAAC). The Hoyas would again leave empty-handed, as the Broncos dealt Georgetown another tough loss. Just eight minutes into the match, Rider senior midfielder Alicia Govannicci managed to find the back of the net after Georgetown’s freshman goalie Rosalie Nolen made a save that took an unlucky bounce. Scoring again at the 13-minute mark to take a 2-0 lead, Rider went on to finish the half up 4-0, three of its four goals coming off corners. Although the Hoyas were able to reduce Rider’s shot total by ten in the second half, Georgetown took a total of only three shots on the day and suffered a 4-1 defeat.
Despite a somewhat difficult start to the season, Hubbard has confidence that her team can accomplish a lot.
“The freshmen coming in are really meshing so well — they’re ready to take the program somewhere,” Hubbard said. “They work so hard at practice, and they want to build a name for our program.”
The Blue and Gray expect to see much production from their midfielders this year, as their leading returning scorer, sophomore Emily Weinberg, plans to carry her momentum over from last season, when she had five points. Fellow sophomore Meghan Murphy, who appeared in 18 of 19 games last season, had three points in 2012 and added to the Hoyas’ depth on defense.
“It’s been really cool to watch the dynamic of this team evolve — they’re starting to understand each other as athletes,” Hubbard said of her midfielders.
The team also expects high levels of production from freshman midfielders Maria McDonald and Devin Holmes, both of whom have already demonstrated their abilities both on the field and as team leaders.
On defense, Georgetown returns several players who will be key to the team’s success. Sophomore Elizabeth Mueller returns to the squad after making 12 starts in 2012, and sophomore defensive midfielder Louise Chakejian, who played in every game as a freshman, will also look to lead Georgetown’s backs. Strong play will be necessary from these sophomores as well as from junior defenders Brooke Simone and Tori Hideshima, as the team’s goalkeeper situation for the season is still up in the air. With the loss of goalie Briana Pereira, Georgetown’s starting goalkeeper of the past three seasons, the Hoyas will be looking to fill a major gap on defense in 2013. While junior Emma Hamstra is expected to be the frontrunner for the job, freshmen Rosalie Nolen and Rachel Skonecki have been the only goalies to play on the season, with Nolen playing the majority of the minutes.
Despite 10 straight losing seasons, the Hoyas are optimistic that this season will be the start of a new tradition: winning.
“They’re all on the same page, and we haven’t had that before,” Hubbard said. “I think that’s what makes this year a lot different — they are all ready to win, and they are all ready to put the work in to get those wins. Our main focus is on building the program, and we’re going to do that in baby steps.”
Perhaps the first step toward that goal will come on Friday, when the Hoyas take on Towson at 7 p.m., who, like Georgetown, is looking for its first win of the season.