The Pride was already up 2-0 over Clark on Stagg Field just 16 minutes into Tuesday’s conference tilt against the Cougars.
Ann Mahoney passed the ball through a defender to senior forward Maggie Kennedy, who was 10 yards away from the goal. Kennedy raised her stick to shoot the ball and seconds later the crowd could hear the booming sound of the hard plastic ball striking the back of the field hockey net.
Earlier in the night when Mahoney and Amanda Nusbaum scored the fans could hear the ball tap the wooden panels on the back of the net, like a knock, but it was nothing compared to Kennedy’s. After the forward drilled the ball to the back net it seemed the field went absolutely silent until the loud bang filled the air.
After Kennedy’s goal the players all ran back to the middle of the field and teammates went up to Kennedy to congratulate her, but her night wasn’t over.
Dani Sweet had the ball in front of the net, and after it seemed like the Clark defense had control of the Pride’s offense, Kennedy received the ball again and fired another shot. This time the shot came from seven yards out and once again the fans could hear the familiar sound of the ball colliding with the wooden panels on the back of the net.
“It’s challenging to block some of her shots because they have so much power and force behind them,” said Emmalie Drake, the Pride’s goalie. “Some of her shots are incredible and I miss them but they only push me to be a better goalie. With Maggie, she never gives up on a ball, we will be doing circle play and she is always trying to finish on net whether someone is defending or not.”
Kennedy has always been one of the Pride’s top forwards on the field. In her freshman year she played in 16 games, and in those match up she had four goals and two assists on the season, but going into her sophomore season something changed. Kennedy came out stronger than ever. The physical education major started in 18 of the 19 games and had 13 goals and seven assists on the season. She had a team-best 33 points. Kennedy had more confidence going into sophomore year. She knew how Springfield played, she knew what college field hockey was like, and she knew who to play like to be successful.
“I had this one amazing field hockey player Liv Cabral…she was just outstanding and I really looked up to her my freshman year. Everything she did on the field I wanted to do,” said Kennedy. “She was so good and that really transferred in and was my inspiration in sophomore year, just to play how she had her mind set.”
Cabral was a dual sport athlete who played field hockey and lacrosse for Springfield. In her time with the Pride, Cabral led the team in goals her junior year and was named NEWMAC First Team All-Conference and Longstreth/NFHCA Division III All-Region Team before tearing her ACL before her senior season.
Even though Kennedy only played her freshman season with Cabral beside her on the field Kennedy was impacted by what she had learned in her first year.
“She gave me a true understanding of DIII field hockey,” said Kennedy.
After her sophomore campaign Kennedy was named to the NFHCA First Team All-Region and NEWMAC First-Team All-Conference.
In her junior year Kennedy received even more honors. She was named to the NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad, NFHCA First Team All-Region and NEWMAC and ECAC Regional Player of the Week.
Having someone like Kennedy on a team not only helps the Pride’s offense, but also the defense.
“It’s awesome having someone on your team that can rip a shot like Maggie…she pushes me to be the best goalie I can by always practicing like she would in a game and having the skill set to challenge me,” said Drake.
In her final year with the Pride Kennedy has already scored 15 goals and six assist with four regular season games left. Earlier this season against Westfield State, Kennedy had a record night. After three goals and one assist Kennedy became the fifth Springfield Field Hockey player to record 100 career points since 1980.
“It made me feel more than accomplished at that point, it gave me a sense of relief knowing that all my many many years of playing field hockey paid off in my last year as an athlete,” said Kennedy.
In her career Kennedy has always been one of the top forwards for the Pride, and this season when she goes in a game off the bench is no different.
“I feel blessed to even be on the field so I take every moment with full gratitude that I experience on the field,” she said. “I am the type of player that will give 110% for whenever I am in the game, whether it’s 70 minutes or 10. That’s the mentality I use every game whether I start or not.”
The physical education major currently leads the Pride in overall points, with 36, which puts her at second in the NEWMAC. She is also second in goals in the conference, and is just one goal shy of the MIT player who is ranked No. 1. On top of that Kennedy is also tied for No. 4 in assist on the season.
“What has been working so well for me this season is me telling myself ‘just one more’ whether it’s the last sprint in practice or the final minute of a game,” said Kennedy.
This season the Pride was off to their best start since 1996. Springfield won the first five games of their season before playing against some of the nation’s best Division III teams like Babson, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation, and Williams, who is No.10.
Kennedy said, “This season has been nothing but good for me and the team. Yes we have had ups and down, great starts and some weak moments but nothing is taking away from how everyone is doing individually.”