Fall Sports Preview | Field Hockey: Stable Leadership Solidifies Team Chemistry

COURTESY GUHOYAS

COURTESY GUHOYAS

With a record of .500 after its first four games, the Georgetown field hockey team (2-2) is looking to build upon the successes of last year’s campaign as it continues into the 2016 season and heads into Big East play next week.

Already, the Hoyas have seen improvements since 2015, beating Davidson (1-2) 3-1 in their season opener. According to Head Coach Shannon Soares, the team has focused on rebuilding its program over the past few years in order to successfully compete with top-caliber opponents.

“As far as a longterm goal goes for us, yes, this is year three of me being at the helm of this program and of us trying to change the culture and have higher expectations for it,” Soares said. “We very much want to succeed in the Big East. We want to compete at a high level, and we understand that that is a process and we are working hard to each year continue to improve in the Big East.”

In terms of transformations, Georgetown has seen some fresh faces in its starting lineup, including freshmen forward Lindsay Getz and midfielder Michaela Bruno, along with a new set of veteran players including two junior midfielders, Joanna Hawkins and Megan Parsons.

“The biggest change [since 2015] is clearly our personnel,” Soares said. “Now we’re working with a senior class that has stepped up to the plate from a leadership standpoint and is very much hungry for the opportunity to write their own story for this program.”

Despite opening undefeated in their best start since 2010, the Hoyas faced a challenging weekend on the road, dropping games at Rider (2-1) and Monmouth (4-0) by scores of 6-0 and 2-0, respectively. When asked about bouncing back, Coach Soares emphasized the importance of keeping a positive mentality after a pair of tough losses.

“Believing in the process. That is big for us. That is a huge piece to this. We as a staff always tell our group that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not just going to flip a switch and all of a sudden become a perennial powerhouse,” Soares said. “It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment, a lot of discipline, a lot of accountability, and a lot of leadership in addition to talent to see the changes that we want to see.”

While praising her team’s consistent effort to build a successful program, Soares also acknowledged the obstacles they have faced and certainly did not take them lightly.

“Last weekend was a very tough weekend for us, and it was very evident that we have a lot of work to do, as we always do. But even more so right now, there’s a real tension to needing to make significant changes and adjustments on the field prior to welcoming William & Mary here on Friday,” Soares said.

Regarding specific tactics, Soares hopes to work on getting the little things right, especially when it comes to giving forwards the opportunity to score.

“We just have to do a better job of successfully outletting the ball past our attacking 50 so that we can give our strikers the opportunity to penetrate our opponent’s circle and get some shots on cage. If we can’t get the ball out of our back field, then we don’t get to let those talented strikers that we have go to work, and we want them to go to work,” Soares said.

With only two more games until Big East Conference play opens against Quinnipiac on Sept. 16, the Hoyas will be looking to senior captains Molly Thompson and Devin Holmes, who, according to Soares, “have very much invested a lot of time and energy and leadership into the program.”

“I’ve been very impressed with their ability to communicate directly, to advocate for their teammates, and to serve as an extension of our coaching staff, because that’s exactly what they are,” Soares said. “They’ve really done a fantastic job.”

Additionally, Thompson and Holmes will be working alongside a leadership council consisting of Parsons, sophomore Katie Maransky, and fellow senior midfielders Maria McDonald and goalkeeper Rachel Skonecki.

According to Soares, the leadership council is responsible for meeting with the rest of the players individually, allowing the coaching staff to have a strong handle on the current pulse of the team.

“The responsibility of a leadership council member is one that is very significant and one that both Molly and Devin held in their junior year. [The leadership council] has been a great support system for those two as they continue to do their best to lead our program.”

The Hoyas are set to host William & Mary this Friday at 1 p.m.

Note: Sports Information could not be reached for comments from the players.

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