The start of SUNYAC conference games can be a make-or-break time for teams, but for the Geneseo field hockey team, the weekend games helped determine its status as an elite SUNY team. The first game on Sept. 27 against defending SUNYAC champions SUNY New Paltz was a statement match. Led by SUNYAC Offensive Player of the Week senior Kayla DeAngelis, the Knights were able to fight back from an early deficit to defeat the Hawks 2-1.
“This season, our approach is to take one game at a time, and the same holds true for our SUNYAC matches,” head coach Jess Seren said. “The team understands the importance of each game, which is good. It’s important to know what’s on the line and what you’re playing for. It fuels them.”
The Knights faced another difficult challenge when playing SUNY Oneonta the next day, Saturday Sept. 28. Similar to New Paltz, the Red Dragons were a top-SUNYAC team the previous season, going 4-2 in the conference. A first-place standing was on the line for the Knights, who needed to go 2-0 on the weekend.
The match was a back-and-forth struggle until the Knights scored two in a row to pull ahead 6-5. Oneonta was only able to muster one more goal in the match, as sophomore goalkeeper Dayna Mercer withstood multiple scoring opportunities.
“Starting off 2-0 in the conference is huge, especially when it’s two of the top teams in the SUNYAC. It makes a strong statement and sets the tone for the rest of the season,” Seren said. “It doesn’t take the pressure off – it raises the bar but, more importantly, it gives us momentum and confidence going forward, which is only going to help us reach the goals we’ve set out to achieve.”
Without home field advantage, many teams might struggle to find the momentum to bounce back without the support of familiar faces or territory. The Knights proved last weekend that this is not the case for them.
“Being on the road always poses its challenges – even more so with field hockey because of the different surfaces you play on,” Seren said. “Different skill sets and strategies are required for each, so it’s important that we recognize what those are and then make the appropriate adjustments quickly so our focus can be on executing our game plan.”
On Tuesday Oct. 1, Geneseo continued its streak, as the team scored seven goals within the first 20 minutes of play, cruising to a dominant 8-0 victory over Morrisville State College. With the win, the Knights remain undefeated in the SUNYAC.