Field hockey triumphs in dramatic season debut

by Rossiter Drake

Despite the off-season losses of head coach Mindy Manolovich, regional All-American Jesse Robinson and Academic All-American goaltender Liz Breakstone, the members of the 1999 women's field hockey team hope to improve upon last season's 8-11 record under new head coach Elizabeth Graham. If their first two games of the young regular season serve as any indication, they might just be on the right track.

This past Saturday, the women's field hockey team dazzled the home crowd with a rousing 2-1 overtime victory against NCAC rival Wittenberg. Throughout the game, the Yeowomen engaged in a tough defensive battle, wrestling with their stingy opponents for offensive opportunities and control of the game. As it turned out, Oberlin would not gain the upper hand until senior co-captain Maggie McFalls netted her first goal of the season after regulation time had expired. Sophomore Emily Johnson, who led the team in scoring last year with 13 goals and two assists in 19 games, tallied a goal and an assist in her first outing of the new season. Meanwhile, sophomore goaltender Pam Walker, who split time with Breakstone during the 1998 campaign, shined in net for the Yeowomen, turning away countless shots while confounding her hapless opponents. Finally, junior co-captain Annabeth Macy picked up an assist in the victory. Photo of field hockey team

Unfortunately, the Yeowomen could not carry that kind of success into their next contest, suffering a frustrating loss at the hands of another division rival, Ohio Wesleyan, on Tuesday. Although they bombarded the Battling Bishops with shots on net, the Oberlin women could not solve the prolems presented by Ohio Wesleyan's stifling defense and their talented goaltender, junior Liz Strapps. Despite the setback, Walker once again sparkled in net for the Yeowomen, improving her save percentage to an eye-popping 93.3 percent.

Although junior co-captain Abigail Chatfield was pleased with her team's hard-fought triumph over Wittenberg, she also felt that the Yeowomen could have avoided their narrow loss to Ohio Wesleyan had they applied a bit more pressure on their opponents.

"I think we've gotten off on a good foot," she said. "A decent win against Wittenberg was a good way to start off the regular season. It's too bad about the loss to Ohio Wesleyan - we could have won it given the number of shots on goal, but we didn't push hard enough. Luckily, we get a second chance against them in two weeks."

Despite the mixed results of the first two games, Graham was similarly impressed by the way her young team has performed in the early going. "Things are going well," she said. "The one thing that stands out in my mind is the ability of the players to adapt to new situations. We have many returning players and plenty of new faces on the team. Everyone has been open to trying new things, and everyone has done those things successfully."

Looking forward to this Saturday's contest against the Earlham Quakers, Graham expressed cautious optimism. "We should do well," she said. "We need to come out strong and dictate the pace of the game. That's how we can be successful." For her part, an enthusiastic Chatfield had nothing but positive things to say about her team's prospects for the future. "Team-wise we are looking great," she said. "The new coaches are a huge hit, and most of our freshmen are ready for the starting line-up. It looks like a good season ahead!"

Let's hope she's right. The Yeowomen will face division rival Earlham tomorrow on the Athletic Fields at 1 p.m. Fans who yearn to see a good old-fashioned Quaker bashing should come out early to cheer for the home squad.

She shoots, she scores: The Yeowomen train for their upcoming contest against the Earlham Quakers. On Tuesday, they suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Ohio Wesleyan. (photo by Pauline Shapiro)


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Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 128, Number 2, September 10, 1999

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