Denison unbeatable, at-large bid denied


The DePauw field hockey team won 15 straight games until losing to Denison University in its final regular season game. In the NCAC tournament final, the team hoped to defeat its rival to proceed to the NCAA Div. III tournament. 

But the Big Red was ready for the Tigers. 

DePauw lost this weekend in Granville, Ohio to Denison in the NCAC field hockey championship game, finishing the season with an overall record of 16-3. The Big Red scored a goal in each half, ultimately beating the Tigers 2-0.  

"I still think that we played well," said senior Lissy Collin. "One thing that was honorable about how we played Saturday was that we fought every minute of the whole game." 

Denison's first goal was scored by Tara Pesman at the 12 minute mark on a double assist from Molly Chapman and Taylor Bacon. Catie Merrick rounded up scoring with minutes left in the game sealing the win and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for Denison.  

"Denison, there's just something about them," Collin said. "Our playing styles don't match up. We're not used to the way they play defense and they're not used to ours." 

DePauw held a 14-9 edge in shots while Denison led 8-7 in corners. The difference was that Denison was able to slip two goals past Tiger goalkeeper Maggie Steele. Denison disrupted DePauw's offense by packing the scoring circle with five or six players on every offensive chance. This created tough scoring opportunities for the Tigers and also forced them to shoot from close to the edge of the scoring circle.  

"It was a really evenly played match, but they were able to capitalize in the circle," said head coach Gina Preston. "They put a lot of people behind the ball, and that was frustrating for us. We like to have space and work the ball around." 

DePauw placed three players on the all-tournament team: junior Margaret Ellis, sophomore Chelsea Cutler and freshman Paige Henry. 

One day after the loss to Denison, the NCAA tournament bracket was released. The Tigers did not receive an at-large bid to the tournament, concluding their season.  

"It's disappointing," Preston said. "We learned a lot this year. The team has a lot to be proud of. There were a lot of good teams that were selected." 

Preston believes the team learned a lot by playing in the conference championship game. The women will actively work on bringing their new knowledge to the spring and the offseason. 

"The team was just so special this year because of their work ethic," Preston said. "They were very supportive of each other on and off the field. They put the success of the team ahead of their individual success." 

Collin said that after 10 years of playing field hockey she's never been on a better team or played a better season. 

"Even though we don't have a trophy to take away from it, we have our family," Collin said.