By Rebecca Dann
The Kenyon field hockey team (19-2) emerged victorious against Denison University (13-7) this past Saturday, securing the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship and an automatic bid into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. This marks the Ladies’ first NCAC championship since 2007.
Yesterday, the Ladies fell 2-0 to Messiah College (Grantham, Pa.) in the first round of NCAAs.
The game began with tough defense put up by both Kenyon and Denison, as neither team was able to score in the first half. Within the first two minutes of the second half, however, Maddie Breschi ’16, assisted by Rachel Hall ’15, was able to get past Denison’s defense and score the first and only goal of the game, giving Kenyon the win with a final score of 1-0.
“It felt so amazing to see all of our hard work pay off,” Hall said. “We played as a team and gave our all — it’s such an amazing feeling, especially as a senior.”
Kenyon’s defense did not let up for the remainder of the game — Denison was unable to produce any shots on goal and first-year goalkeeper Sarah Speroff ’18 didn’t touch the ball the entire game. In addition, Kenyon’s offense appeared stronger than Denison’s, outshooting their opponents eight to four.
“The team played really well and they played really hard and fought the entire game, so that was really nice to see,” Head Coach Jacque DeMarco said. “The Denison team played really well against us, so that was a good challenge for us, and I think it only makes us stronger going into our next game.”
This win was especially exciting for the Ladies, as Denison was the only NCAC team that had beaten them all season.
“When we lost to them at first, we just didn’t play well the second half, so that was a learning game for us,” DeMarco said. “And just moving forward, we’ve been stronger ever since.”
The win gave Kenyon an overall record of 19-2 for the season and further supported their number-one ranking in the conference. “We all had this common goal to win the NCAC,” Speroff said, “and just keeping that goal in mind has really kind of brought us together and made us work harder in practice and work with our coaches to make that happen.”
The Ladies had little rest before they faced Messiah, who was 15-6 during the regular season.
“We are ready to play our game and to work together to attack offensively and come back on defense, and to protect our field,” Hall said before the game.
“I think its going to be a good match. Everything that I’ve heard, they’re very physical and a good team, fast, and I think that’s kind of how we are too,” Coach DeMarco said in advance of the Messiah game.
Kenyon could not, however, take advantage of playing on their home turf, and was unable to keep its game going and lost to Messiah 2-0. The teams appeared to be evenly matched at the start of the game, but Messiah began to gain control and scored 22 minutes into the first period. Kenyon was unable to get past their opponent’s defense to tie the score, and nine minutes before the end of the game, Messiah successfully got another goal past Kenyon’s defense.
The loss ended Kenyon’s impressive 12-game winning streak. While Kenyon failed to advance to the next round in the NCAA tournament, their record this season still stands as their best since 2007.
The Ladies will now take some time off and resume practices in the spring to begin preparing for their season.