Hens season ends with 2-1 loss at CAA Tournament to No. 1 seed
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 20:11
Earlier in the season, head coach of the Delaware field hockey team Rolf van de Kerkhof compared field hockey to a boxing match.
“You go 12 rounds,” van de Kerkhof said. “And at the end of those 12 rounds they decide a winner if you’re still alive.”
The Hens survived the regular season with an 8-12 overall (3-4 CAA) record and gained the No. 5 seed in the CAA Tournament. In the quarterfinals, they beat William & Mary, 3-2, on Nov. 2 before losing to host Drexel, 2-1, the next day. Despite this, van de Kerkhof said he was happy with the season because of how strong the team’s depth showed throughout the year.
“Although we always want to move on and play another game, we can look back and be excited what we have completed as a program with a young and talented players’ group,” he said.
The season started out rough for the Hens, who lost their first four nonconference games before beating Saint Joseph’s University, 3-1, on Sept. 5.
When it came time to play the CAA regular season, the team started off similarly, losing the first three games before winning three consecutive games against Hofstra, Drexel and Towson.
Although van de Kerkhof said Drexel was the toughest team Delaware faced because the Dragons were the No. 1 seed in the tournament, sophomore defender Kelsey McKee said she thought differently. McKee said depending on whether the squad was attacking or defending, there could be two different tough teams.
“Between the two 25 [yard lines], like in the midfield, University of North Carolina was extremely hard,” McKee said. “And they kind of had this aura around them that, ‘We’re North Carolina and we’re tough,’ and they came out and you could just feel this presence. But in the attacking 25, Princeton was the better team. As a defender, Princeton was a very tough team for me because they were in our circle ripping shots off all the time.”
One of the keys to the Hens’ success was freshman midfielder Michaela Patzner. Patzner had seven goals and two assists. Her total of 16 points was second behind McKee in the team’s overall statistics. Patzner, with the help of her teammates, has adjusted well to playing for the Hens, van de Kerkhof said.
Patzner’s performance was not surprising, according to van de Kerkhof. He said with the help of the team, Patzner was able to show just how good she is.
“I was not surprised by her talents,” he said. “But at the same time, she still had to bring her talent out in our team setting and with our offense style in competition.”
McKee said due to Hurricane Sandy, preparing for the postseason was tough because they got back to school on Nov. 1 and the quarterfinals were two days later.
However, junior goalie Sarah Scher, who is also a co-captain, said the format of the tournament didn’t allow for the team’s energy to drop.
“All our games were very back-to-back-to-back,” Scher said. “So mentally, you had to get yourself in a different kind of mindset because you didn’t have time to rethink things, you just had to play your best, live in the moment and continue playing hard. I think that we all handled the pressure of the postseason very well and it was just a matter of being ready to play, mentally, physically, everything in sync.”
With three seniors−midfielder/forward Nikki Onorato, midfielder Carley Hecht and forward Tory Sharpless−leaving, there will be gaps that need to be filled. For van de Kerkhof, players such as redshirt freshman forward Morgan Hudson and some talented incoming freshman should fill these holes.
When van de Kerhof reflects on the season, he said he will consider it another step in the building process. He said the players he chooses helps to make the program grow.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day or a week,” he said. “And that’s what we have to continue to do. Always look at the bigger picture. We are building Delaware field hockey with the help of many people but ultimately our players.”