As the 2016 season continues, the Stevenson field hockey team hopes to improve on their season as the Mustangs move past the midpoint of the season.
In her six years at Stevenson University, head coach Laurel Martin said that records have been broken, including reaching the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth Championship game for the first time in program history and advancing to a second-straight ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship game in the past two seasons.
With a competitive non-conference schedule, Martin explained, “We usually start off slow in the beginning, but peak when needed at the end.” With a non-conference record of 2-5 as of Sept. 27, the Mustangs still have four non-conference games to go, including Gettysburg and McDaniel Colleges. “Playing against competitive non-conference teams gets us prepared for our tough conference,” Martin added.
The team recently fell in their first conference game against Messiah College who are currently ranked No. 2 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll. “Astroturf gives teams (such as Messiah) a big advantage,” said Martin, who knew that Messiah was going to be a tough game.
Martin has confidence in her team as they face other rivals including Alvernia College, who are currently undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 19 in the NFHCA poll. Last season the Mustangs faced off against the Crusaders twice during the 2015 season, as the Mustang fell 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 24, and lost 4-0 in the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship on Nov. 15.
“Alvernia is definitely, if not, one of our most important games of the season,” said sophomore Ashley Meyer. “Preparation for the game will involve focus and heart from everyone in order show them and the conference that we can handle even the best teams. Every game is important but to beat them will be a real confidence booster” The Mustangs face the Crusaders on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. at Alvernia College.
In preparation to games, Martin brings the team together to break down the game film to point out their competitor’s weaknesses and strengths. She finds that creating a “foefield” for the team helps in practice and teaches the team about their competition.
The “bubbly and fun” freshmen mixed with the “steadfast” seniors create a unique dynamic for the team this season, Martin mentioned. Most of the members of the team have come up with a ritual before games, known as ‘game day braids.’
The Mustangs return home on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., to face conference opponent Albright College who are 5-2.