On the wet Saturday morning of Sept. 22, the Women’s Field Hockey Team and the Alvernia Crusaders competed in an exact replica of last season’s PAC championship game.
Last fall, Eastern came away with a 2-0 victory and the PAC title. The story appeared to be the same the during the first half as the Eagles dominated Alvernia with great ball movement. Senior tri-captain Jamie Heck scored two goals for the Eagles, giving them a comfortable lead.
However, things heated up in the second half when Alvernia knotted the score, 2-2. As the clock ticked down to the last few minutes, Alvernia scored yet another goal leaving the final score 2-3.
Despite losing, Coach Camrin Azzarano believed that the team had improved. So far in the season, the Eagles have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with. They were voted as the favorite to win the PAC in a preseason poll and currently are 4-1 in the conference and 6-3 overall. This poll was done by the coaches in the PAC before the season began.
The team is facing the heart of a very tough and talented schedule presently, which features many of the top teams in the nation.
They have already faced off against #4 The College of New Jersey and #1 Ursinus, losing close matches to both, 0-2 and 1-4, repectively.
They also played William Paterson, the squad that knocked the Eagles out of the 2006 NCAA tournament on Sept. 25. After that, the team will go against #10 Rowan and #13 Montclair, back to back in the first week of October.
With such a tough schedule and a primarily young team, Coach Azzarano plans to focus on each game one at a time.
While their end record may not look as impressive, these losses against the nation’s best have not brought the team morale down.
“When we play tough teams, we definitely grow from it,” junior Leslie Messick said. “In our conference there are only three or four teams [that play] at our level. These non-conference games help us prepare for nationals.”
Still, losing such a close match to Alvernia will not go away quickly. “We definitely didn’t play our game in the second half,” Messick said. “Everyone was disappointed.”
Even though Saturday’s match didn’t end the way the team wanted, there are still many opportunities left in the season as they continue to learn to play together.
“We definitely have improved greatly,” Coach Azzarano said. “That first half we had against Alvernia was our best all year.”