Tigers' field hockey opens 2014 season with two shutout victories

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The DePauw field hockey team walked away with two wins this weekend after traveling all the way to Hendrix College in Arkansas and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

In the opening game on Saturday against the Hendrix Warriors, the Tigers found the back of the net seven times. The following day, facing the Rhodes Lynx, the Tigers played 98 scoreless minutes before senior forward Paige Henry delivered the game-winning goal in the second overtime.

Starting the season on a high note, the team saw improvements through both games, said Head Coach Gina Preston.

“The team had really good energy,” Preston said. “We had a lot of players doing a lot of really good things. It was a great note to start the season, and especially to come out with a win yesterday, we showed our ability to stick through the full game even when the play was close.”

In both games, the Tigers possessed the ball well and presented a strong defensive wall, preventing their opponents from scoring.

Preston says the players talk about “defense as a team” as a way to keep the ball on their offensive end throughout the game.

“It starts with our forwards up there when the other team has a free hit. They do a nice job of being disruptive,” Preston said.

Senior Maggie Steele split time in goal against Hendrix with first-year Sarah Geundert. Steele recorded one save during Saturday’s game as the Tigers forced 16 shots against Hendrix’s goalie Gabryele Pochron.  

DePauw senior Grace Fisher knocked two goals in during the first half while seniors Kate Jovanovic and Maggie Campbell followed, each with a goal apiece.

Two freshmen on the team also made it up on the scoreboard – Paige Berliner scored once at the end of the second half and Reilly Bruce scored twice to round out DePauw’s scoring.

“The team looks really good this year,” Bruce said. “If we keep playing like we did this past weekend, we will lead a path to victory.”

After leaving Hendrix with a big win, the women faced a tough opponent in Rhodes on Sunday afternoon.

The Tigers held possession of the ball throughout the game, creating many opportunities to score. The Tigers also had 21 corner opportunities, dominating the Lynx.

Even though only one shot on goal reached the back of the net in Sunday’s game, Jovanovic expects that to pick up as the season progresses.

These first two games allowed the team to play together for the first time since losing four senior starters from last year’s season. The turnover continued as the team welcomed eight new players.

“It gives us a good idea of what we have done well, what we can do better and the potential our team holds,” Jovanovic said. “We learn and improve every game, so we just hope to continue building on. It’s one game at a time.”

Looking forward to this coming weekend, the Tigers will face Center College and Christopher Newport University, two teams that also made it to the Nation Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament last season.           

In practice this week, the team will be focusing on joining and supporting each other on the field, creating second and third goal scoring opportunities and capitalizing on the corners they hope to get.

Preston has confidence in the team that the pieces will come together and the team will be successful.

“It’s going to be great competition, Preston said. "We’re excited to play at home.”