Defending champion Tigers pounce on Lady Hens, 2-1
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 21:10
Field hockey head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof said last week that Sunday’s game against 2012 NCAA field hockey National Champions Princeton University was just another game on the 2013 Delaware field hockey team’s calendar, but the Hens took the Tigers head-on, losing 2-1 at Rullo Stadium in a gritty performance.
Van de Kerkhof said Delaware started out shaky but improved throughout.
“We played a great team in Princeton,” van de Kerkhof said. “They won the whole thing last year, and so I think we second-guessed ourselves a little bit early on in the first half. If we could play with some of the best, and after realization that we could, we started playing better the rest of the first half and I think our second half was superb.”
The Hens continued their unbeaten run in the CAA Friday night, winning 5-0 against Towson at Rullo Stadium, giving van de Kerkhof his 100th career victory. Senior midfielder Clare O’Malley put Delaware on the board in the first half, while freshman midfielder/defense Esmée Peet and senior forward Toni Papinko scored two goals in the second half.
Van de Kerkhof said he was pleased with getting his 100th win, but it mattered more for the team to get the win.
“I’m glad that somebody kept track of it because I was not aware of it, because even now people kept texting me, ‘Congrats,’ and I’m like, ‘Congrats on what?’ so yeah, 100th, ” he said. “It’s great, but at the end of the day, you just want to prepare your team to play and get a win for that game. You stay in the business long enough, then maybe you reach that 100 mark.”
Sunday’s game began with the Hens controlling the ball, but the Tigers gained control soon after, making a move into Delaware’s zone. Senior goalkeeper Sarah Scher made a big save to keep the score level with around twenty minutes gone.
Scher said the Princeton team was not as strong as last season but still very difficult to play, and the Hens did a good job of playing to the Tigers’ level.
“Compared to last year, you can tell that it’s not the same, but at the same time they’re still a quality program, and I think that they played very well,” Scher said. “They’re a great team, but we’re a great team as well, and I thought we kept up with them pretty well.”
Off of an early penalty corner, Peet got a shot off, but it was saved by Princeton goalie Anya Gersoff. The Hens kept up the offensive movement, but Delaware’s defense began to work well with the offense, moving the ball up field and keeping the Tigers at bay.
However, Princeton got the opening goal when midfielder Michelle Cesan backhanded an unassisted shot from 15 yards out at 10:12 in the first to go up 1-0.
Right after the goal, the Hens’ defense got right back to it, making the Tigers move the ball around the field and cutting off their path to goal. Delaware almost got the score level again when freshman forward Meghan Winesett, who came right off the bench, ran down the field toward the goal before Gersoff came out and was able to stop the shot.
Peet again made a nice shot with almost two-thirds of the half gone, but Gersoff wasn’t troubled as it flew wide. With 2:50 left in the first, Princeton had a corner, but Scher saved it immediately. The Hens went into the half down 1-0.
Van de Kerkhof said he discussed with the team at halftime about alterations to the play, and the team responded well going into the second half.
“We made a few small changes, not big, but just a little bit in the front half, a little defensive side, and at the end of the talk with the team, it’s work rate, it’s work rate,” he said. “If we start working harder as a team because that moment that we work hard, more individually, we need each other if we want to have a chance in the second half.”
Delaware opened up the second half strong, staying in the Tigers’ zone and keeping the pressure up. Princeton moved the ball down five minutes in, but Scher immediately slapped it away. The Hens got a corner right after, and O’Malley scored at 41:38 in the second to tie the game at 1-1. Sophomore midfielder Michaela Patzner, who was named CAA Player of the Week last week, had the assist.
O’Malley said she had worked on the shot in training but had to play it a bit differently in the game.
“So I’ve been practicing the R1 [first deflection to the right side] a lot lately in practice and my thoughts were, ‘There a good team, got to get to my spot first and then see the ball into my stick,’” O’Malley said. “But what happened was it came to my opposite side, and I just kind of spun around and used my body weight to push it into goal.”
Delaware kept the pressure up after the goal, holding the ball in the Princeton zone and threatening to score. The defense also kept up its performance, making sure to prevent the tie being broken.