After a less than ideal start to the fall season, the Geneseo field hockey team seems to have found their stride after a 5-0 win against rival SUNY Cortland. With the Knights now 1-0 in conference play, they are back on track toward winning the SUNYAC Championship for their second year in a row.
This weekend will prove to be an important leg in the pursuit of that goal, as the Knights will be facing conference competitors SUNY Oneonta on Friday Sept. 22 and SUNY New Paltz Saturday Sept. 23.
“It’s a big weekend we have ahead of us,” senior midfielder Morgan Maley said. “We played Oneonta in the finals last year, and playing any team in our conference is always important, so it’ll be a good test.”
Freshman development continues to be important, season after season. Involving the up and coming players makes a substantial difference in the team’s record—especially in conference matchups.
“We’re really coming together as a team, on and off the field,” senior forward Cara Stafford said. “Coach has us mixing up passing partners in practice, working in with the younger girls; it really helps our chemistry.”
With an important weekend coming up, the women have been practicing vigorously. Head coach Jess Seren is stressing conditioning, as the temperature remains unseasonably warm. Along with conditioning, the team has been working out some kinks in their strategy and fundamentals as well.
“We’re really trying to overlap wide and pass flat, and cut off those channels,” senior forward Giovanna ‘Gigi’ Fasanello said. Fasanello is fresh off of a historic season after scoring the winning goal for the 2016 SUNYAC Championship.
These two games against Oneonta and New Paltz are must-wins for the Knights. Like Geneseo, New Paltz stands at 1-0 for conference play. Two conference games in one weekend could prove important for the standings and team morale; these are the games that count.
This is also the first time the team will be up and against Oneonta since the 2016 SUNYAC final game, so Oneonta will be playing with a chip on their shoulders.
As for the rest of the season, the girls said they have a lot to look forward to. They have strong freshmen—four of whom have started this season—and solid senior leadership.
The team is also looking ahead toward another potential international trip that will test their skills against field hockey teams outside of the United States.
“The team went to Spain three years ago, so we got to play some teams from over there, which was pretty crazy,” senior forward Emma Dempsey said. “We’re not sure where we’ll go or if it’ll happen, but things like that are always a lot of fun and can really help us come together.”
In recent seasons, the field hockey team has become a fan favorite to watch. Winning draws in crowds—and that’s exactly what the team has done the past two years. For example, the Knights upset William Smith College on Sept. 6, who were ranked No. 20 at the time.
If recent seasons are any indication, a slow start is no great obstacle for these girls. Their 0-6 start led to a SUNYAC Championship for the 2016 season, an accolade they hope to repeat for 2017.u