The Geneseo field hockey team hosted two conference opponents this past week, losing 2-1 to the nationally-ranked SUNY Cortland Red Dragons on Friday, but coming back to beat SUNY Oswego 4-0 on Saturday.
Geneseo entered Friday's game aware of the challenge that awaited them: Cortland is the fifth-best team in Division III.
Head coach Jessica Seren said that the team knew that they would have to step up against such a tough opponent and exceed Cortland's aggression to be successful.
The Knights did just that, and played evenly with the Red Dragons for the entire first half, leaving the field tied 0-0 at halftime. Cortland, however, got on the scoreboard six minutes into the second half off a penalty corner play.
Geneseo came back less than four minutes later when junior Erin Zalewski shot in a rebound past the Cortland defense to even it at 1-1. The clincher for Cortland, came off another penalty corner with under 16 minutes left in the game. Freshman goalie Nicole Zito saved nine of the Red Dragons' shots in the effort for Geneseo.
One added factor to the game was the weather - it poured throughout most of the contest. The Knights used the rain as motivation instead of an excuse though, and battled through the cold and muddy field against their opponent.
Sophomore Abby Sayler said, "If it was a bright sunny day, you might not play as tough as you would [on a day like Friday]." Zalewski agreed. "Sometimes the weather pumps you up more," she said.
Seren said that the Knights played at a very high level in the second half, citing a defensive effort that held Cortland well below its average of 4.3 goals. "As a coach, I couldn't ask for more," she said. "They played with heart and determination. I think they fought hard, and at times outplayed them."
Geneseo hosted Oswego the very next day, winning 4-0 against the Lakers and not wasting any time dictating the game's demeanor.
Junior Stephanie Maisonet scored the team's first goal on a rebound within seven minutes of the game's start. She then recorded an assist later in the half on a cross to Sayler.
The two-goal lead grew quickly when Sayler came back and knocked home a rebound for her second goal of the match, bringing the Knights up 3-0 into halftime.
"We took all of our anger from yesterday and brought it into today's game," Sayler said after the win.
The Knights cruised through the second half to their victory as Maisonet tacked on her second goal of the game. Geneseo's defense never let Oswego get their offense on track, allowing only three shots on goalies Zito and freshman Caitlyn Dowell as the team recorded its fourth shutout of the season.
Seren said she was proud of the team's play this weekend. "It shows a lot about their character, to bounce back against another conference opponent and play as strong as they did," she said. "They carried in their emotions from last game."
The team's fervor is set to follow them into their next couple of games as they host SUNY Brockport on Saturday before traveling to St. Lawrence University on Tuesday.