Coming into this weekend, the field hockey team was a disappointing 1-12 on the season. It did not look that way on Friday afternoon.
Instead, a team with high spirits and a positive attitude danced around the locker room with smiles from ear to ear prior to the Bobcat’s 3-0 NEC victory over Robert Morris.
Head coach Becca Kohli attributed her team’s attitude to a great week of practice and a new outlook on the season.
“We’ve stopped feeling sorry for ourselves. No one can help us get out of this rut except ourselves, so we just decided to stop playing afraid and trust each other,” Kohli said.
Over Kohli’s 13-year tenure as coach, the Bobcats have earned at least a share of the NEC title seven times.
She believes the pressure of performing up to the quality tradition has weighed heavily on her team.
“We had a meeting last Saturday and just talked about doing this for us,” she said. “We have to expect the best from our competition and give it out best shot.”
As coach, Kohli has a meticulous routine to prepare herself for each game. Two hours prior to the 3 p.m. start she drives up to the turf field and makes sure it is prepared.
At 1:30 p.m., her assistant coach and former player Megan DeCesaris joins her to write out the starting lineup and decide on what corner plays to run.
They also set three team goals to share with the team in the locker room: aim for the corners, trust and transfer and go in numbers.
At 1:45 p.m., Kohli sits in front of her team and decides to read a passage from an inspirational book given to her by a close friend. She talks about facing adversity and, with the right attitude, turning things around.
Nodding with agreement, her team fills out goal sheets of their own.
By 2 p.m., the Bobcats file out of the locker room, with cheers of “Let’s go Bobcats!” and “C’mon Q!” coming from all angles.
After a series of warm-up drills and stretching, captain AnnMarie Mangano and honorary captain Jillian Carroll head to midfield for the coin toss.
During the team’s trip to Europe this summer, the coaching staff came up with the idea of a Zag. Before each game, a player would be named captain because of their ability to “zig-zag” or think outside the box and show great effort during the days leading up to the game.
As usual, Mangano sang the national anthem and the Bobcats appeared ready to get back to their winning ways.
Just five minutes into the game, senior Megan Dahle ripped a shot off a corner just wide of the lower right corner.
Despite a few chances with players pushing forward, the Bobcats were unable to get on the scoreboard.
Junior Bonnie Shea just missed giving the Bobcats the lead with six minutes remaining and a scramble in front of the Robert Morris net came up empty for Quinnipiac.
The Bobcats outshot the Colonials 8-2 in the half and held a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners.
After what she felt was a lackluster first half, coach Kohli challenged her team to come out fired up in the second half.
“That was a terrible half,” she told her team at halftime. “Stop playing scared and transfer the ball. It’s now or never, take risks, be creative and have fun.”
After the game, Kohli said her team just needs to trust themselves.
“What we have struggled with over the past few weeks is the trust factor. So we said open the doors and go for it, and that’s what they did.”
Before the second half began, the Bobcats came together at midfield and appeared to answer the call their coach made at halftime.
In the 43rd minute, Dahle blasted her second goal of the year off a penalty corner to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead that they would not give up.
“I knew where it had to go and I knew it had to go on cage,” Dahle said. “One of my goals was to score on a corner and I had to put it in.”
During the second half, the Bobcats outshot Robert Morris 12-2 and did not allow a shot to reach goalie Jenna Grossman, who only needed two saves for her first shutout of the year.
When Robert Morris decided to call a timeout with eight minutes left, the Bobcats seemed determine to put the game away.
As the team huddled up, a few of the players could be heard telling the team, “We need another one.”
With just over a minute to play freshman Megan McCreedy answered her teammates call. Mc Creedy put the game away on an assist from Dahle to give the Bobcats their second win of the season, the first in NEC play.
“I’ve learned to appreciate every time you win,” said Kohli after the game. “I told the team that the monkeys are running around the field because the monkeys are off our backs now.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Bobcats were unable to build on Friday’s performance, dropping a 1-0 contest to Sacred Heart.
The lone goal of the game was scored by the Pioneers Melissa Mazin in the first half. The Bobcats were unable to find the back of the net on any of their 25 shots. Grossman made six saves for the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac will return to action on Wednesday when they will travel to take on Fairfield.