Field hockey takes down Skidmore College, continues to exemplify stellar defensive play

Senior forward Elisa Acara (picture above) surveys the field as her teammates fight for the ball versus Skidmore College on Saturday Sept. 7. Acara notched both a goal and assist in Geneseo’s 1-4 victory (Olga Shvetsova/photo editor).

Geneseo’s field hockey team put their tough loss to Vassar College on Aug. 31 behind them and returned to form in their next two games. The Knights won with a combined 8-1 score in what has proved to be a great start to the season for the team as a whole.

Geneseo traveled to Geneva, N.Y. to take on William Smith College on Sept. 4, in what turned out to be an impressive second-half effort by the Knights to take down the Herons 4-0. Senior forward Erin Nolan broke the scoreless first half by notching back-to-back third-quarter goals, including an astounding out-of-the-air shot in the 34th minute.

First-year forward Maggie Phipps continued to look stellar in her second career game for Geneseo, assisting sophomore defender Liz Burke on a deflected shot that took a favorable bounce leading to a goal for the Knights less than eight minutes into the fourth quarter.

Sophomore goalie Natalie Chojnacki recorded seven saves to achieve her second shutout of the season, proving why she is the anchor of the Geneseo defensive unit.

If the team wants to continue this upward trajectory, they must practice with as much intensity and focus as they have had since the beginning of their preseason. Players returned to Geneseo in mid-August and immediately began preparations for the season that laid ahead; improving communication and learning each other’s tendencies, along with other important factors.

Junior midfielder Jordan Penkitis, one of the top defensively oriented midfielders in the region, combines with senior midfielder and reigning SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year senior Julia Kim to form an intimidating defensive front.

Penkitis discussed how their younger teammates were given the chance to become familiar and comfortable with the team dynamic during the preseason program.

“Preseason was a week for all the freshmen to adapt to our playing style and get acclimated to college field hockey, and get to know the returners,” she said. “The mindset leaving preseason was that we were ready to win SUNYACs this year and we know now what we need to work on to get there.”

In addition to learning about their new teammates or their new team, the players who arrived in Geneseo in the late summer began to perfect their craft. They feel the pressure to live up to the ten consecutive postseason berths that have preceded them and jumped right back in where they left off last year to start the 2019 season.

“Preseason was conducted in double sessions each day and some of the days we had lift or yoga too,” Penkitis said.

Geneseo was able to use the momentum and energy from their victory over William Smith when they hosted Skidmore College on Sept. 7. The Knights began the game hot on offense, scoring twice before the game’s 17th minute; one by senior forward Elisa Arcara and the other by Nolan.

The Thoroughbreds were held scoreless as a result of the defense’s efforts and Chojnacki until just after 40 minutes into the game. In addition, the Knights’ offense out-shot Skidmore by a margin of three-to-one. These combined factors led to a resounding Geneseo victory with a final score of 4-1.

This was Geneseo’s first victory in 10 all-time meetings with Skidmore. The exceptional performances over the last two games is exactly what the Knights need, as they head into a three-game road trip.

In their first game on the road on Wednesday Sept. 11, Geneseo fell short to host St. John Fisher College by a score of 2-4.