Field hockey falls to North Carolina in NCAA quarterfinals
After an Atlantic 10 Championship and a berth into the NCAA tournament for the first time, the St. Joe’s field hockey team’s season came to an end on Nov. 11 with a loss to fourth-ranked University of North Carolina.
The Hawks ended the season ranked 15 in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Coaches Poll, the highest position they have ever reached. This historic season earned Head Coach Lynn Farquhar her second Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award.
“One of our goals is always to better our past, so it was exciting doing something [reaching the NCAA tournament] for the first time,” Farquhar said.
Junior Anna Willocks is now in the record books for earning her third consecutive title as Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year. She is the first student athlete in the conference to achieve this honor. Freshman Quinn Maguire was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, and sophomore goalkeeper Victoria Kammerinke earned the honor of Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The Hawks’ decorated roster was not enough to beat an experienced North Carolina though. The game marked the Tar Heels’ head coach, Karen Shelton’s 88th NCAA tournament game.
“Karen is a very experienced coach; I wouldn’t be surprised if they came away with the title,” Farquhar said.
St. Joe’s held possession in the beginning of the game, but North Carolina capitalized first just nine minutes into the game. Tar Heels’ Eva van’t Hoog took a shot from the top of the circle that got past Kammerinke.
The Hawks’ defense played tight, allowing just one penalty corner in the first half, but the Tar Heels’ Gab Major scored two goals back-to-back off of loose balls near the cage to put North Carolina up 3-0 at halftime. North Carolina outshot St. Joe’s 16-0 in the first half, but the Hawks would come out stronger in the second half.
St. Joe’s matched North Carolina in shots with six each in the second half, but ultimately the Tar Heels would be the ones to score when Ashley Hoffman scored on a penalty corner 15 minutes into the half.
While the Hawks had their chances, they could not capitalize and their season ended in a 4-0 loss, but they are not deterred by the result against such a powerful program.
“UNC has a strong defensive unit, their center back has experience with our U.S. National team,” Farquhar said. “We had opportunities, but in tournament time you have to convert. That could really change the tempo of a game.”
Ending the season with a record of 18 wins, the Hawks hope to improve even more next year.
“We came out strong, and it was cool to see that we weren’t very intimidated by them and to be able to compete with them,” junior defender Joely Helder said. “In the years to come, we hope to have more experience like they [the Tar Heels] do so maybe we could come out with a win.”
Though there is still a year before the team’s next season, the Hawks will soon set goals for 2018. With the loss of only one senior, Jackalyn Pauling, and a strong showing this year from underclassmen, there is a lot of potential for another successful season.
“We want to win A-10s again; that’s always our goal,” Helder said. “Since we have this experience of getting to the Sweet 16, just to advance further than we did this season [is our goal], which I definitely think we could do.”
For now, the team will decompress until spring.
“I want them to enjoy this moment and really soak that in, and in the spring we’ll start working toward next year,” Farquhar said. “In the spring is where you start to build that championship mentality, so we definitely will have some goals.”