FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Sophomore forward Aliyah-Graves Brown was named to the all-Big East Second Team after leading the Hoyas with six goals and three assists.
Sophomore forward Aliyah-Graves Brown was named to the all-Big East Second Team after leading the Hoyas with six goals and three assists.

After concluding its most successful season since 2010 on Sunday, the Georgetown field hockey team (6-12, 0-5 Big East) is looking toward next year with a bright outlook.

A disappointing 2-16 record in the 2013 season was a sign that the program needed a change. This fall, under the leadership of a brand-new coaching staff and with the opportunity to play home games on campus at the MultiSport Facility for the first time since 2007, Georgetown began to construct a new team identity.

Georgetown’s improved final record is a tangible indication of the team’s progress, but junior co-captain and midfielder Emily Weinberg believes that there are better ways of measuring the team’s success.

“We’ve improved upon our culture, our team dynamic, how hard we’re working [and] our mentality, so I think even more [important] than the amount of wins is the way we are as athletes now,” Weinberg said.

From the beginning, first-year Head Coach Shannon Soares and assistant Coaches Shelly Montgomery and Mary Beth Barham stressed the importance of leaving the past behind and instead developing an all-in mentality. They committed to building confidence, adapting to new challenges and raising expectations. Weinberg says that sharing this commitment with the coaching staff united the team and helped in adjusting to the new leadership.

“We were ready and willing to adapt to it, so the change that was brought upon us, while it was different and new for us based on what we had experienced, we easily adjusted and tried to do everything that they asked of us,” Weinberg said.

The team was also dedicated to building an aggressive mentality, particularly on the offensive end of the field. Soares’ game strategy relied heavily on launching series of relentless attacks on the opponent’s defensive circle.

Junior co-captain and midfielder Louise Chakejian says that this mindset carried over into practices and translated into many of the fundamental improvements the team made during the season.

“We really try to embrace a fighter mentality in practices,” Chakejian said. “Mental toughness is a really big thing for us, and I think we’ve improved so much in that area with every single person. I think that’s a huge step for our program.”

Although Georgetown suffered several tough losses during the season, each game helped the Hoyas reach new levels of progress. Georgetown’s offense became a united and balanced front with nine different players recording goals during the season.

Sophomore forward Aliyah Graves-Brown, who earned all-Big East Second Team honors for her efforts during the season, stepped up to lead the offense with six goals. She was the first Hoya since 2012 to earn a postseason conference honor.

On the other end of the field, the Hoya defense showed resilience throughout the season, recording four shutouts and holding a tough No. 17 Old Dominion offense (11-7, 4-1 Big East) to just three goals on Oct. 31. Sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Skonecki anchored the defense in the cage with 108 total saves and a .667 save percentage.

The Hoyas developed good chemistry on the field, but team unity translated into all areas of the program. In addition to naming Weinberg and Chakejian as captains, the team created a leadership council, which allowed all players to vocalize their ideas and concerns. Both Weinberg and Chakejian agree that this system was important in bringing the team together during a season full of transition.

“We really did get to learn a lot from everyone too. … Everyone’s voice was heard,” Chakejian said.

With both captains and a majority of the roster returning next season, Georgetown is excited for the work and improvement that lies ahead. Chakejian said that although the team made great strides this season, it is looking toward building on this success during the offseason to yield better results next year.

“Something that we’ve been focused on this year is that success is a process rather than a goal,” Chakejian said. “Our six wins this year were really exciting, but it’s not really an end game for us — we’ve just reached another level and we want to go up from there.”

Weinberg is also looking forward to the opportunities that her senior season will bring.

“We never really knew how far we could go and how good we actually were,” Weinberg said. “This [season] was a test of how far we could push ourselves, and going into the spring season will be too. I think next year we’re going to have even higher expectations for ourselves and we’ll be more confident.”

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