Despite odds, field hockey takes SUNYAC title

After overcoming a poor start to the season, the Geneseo field hockey team won the 2016 SUNYAC Championship title. This is the second time the Knights have taken home the trophy since 2010. The Knights had a disheartening start to the season, only winning one out of their nine matches in the month of September. About half way through the season, however, the women seemed to find their groove, winning eight of their last nine matches in the month of October.

After clinching a playoff berth and the No. 3 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament, the Knights were matched against the No. 2 seed SUNY New Paltz. Geneseo and the New Paltz Hawks squared off earlier in the season, which resulted in a home upset for the Knights. This time around, however, New Paltz faced a completely different Geneseo field hockey team. The Hawks had been looking for their fifth consecutive conference title, only to fall 1-0 to the Knights at New Paltz.

At the beginning of the year, a victory against New Paltz seemed to be very far-fetched, but seeing the Knights’ recent success, the victory wasn’t much of a surprise.

“We improved a lot as a team throughout the season,” freshman midfielder Ariana Walczyk said.

The Knights then went on to face the SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons in the 2016 SUNYAC Championship game. Geneseo put on a thriller for the home crowd, winning the game 3-2 in overtime.

The star of the game was junior forward Giovanna Fasanello, who scored all three goals against Oneonta including the eventual game-winning goal in overtime. The hard fought game secured the Knights their first SUNYAC title since 2010 and a spot in the 2016 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament.

“It was so exciting; there was a lot of adrenalin. Coach [Jess] Seren was extremely happy,” Walczyk said. “I’ve never really been on a winning team, so this feels great.”

Geneseo made its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in franchise history. Back in 2010, the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks eliminated the Knights in the first round. This year, the Knights traveled to Keene State, where their season ended in a 3-1 defeat against the Owls.

Keene State put up impressive numbers this year, going 17-3 during the regular season and winning their fourth consecutive Little East Conference Championship. The Owls were also in an arguably more challenging conference for field hockey.

Although the Knights made it to the NCAA Tournament, perhaps the bigger story is their impressive turn around this season. Many players have boasted about how far this team has come, starting as a dysfunctional group of talented players and ending as a solid, high performing field hockey team. The team didn’t even have the utmost expectations, especially after the first part of this season.

“We lost a lot of really good seniors last year, so we weren’t necessarily expecting to make it this far,” Walczyk said.

Looking forward, the Knights can feel confident in their successful season. They hope to continue their momentum into next year’s season.