This week is a very critical week for the Springfield field hockey team as they enter the last two weeks of the regular season. During this span, they will face two NEWMAC opponents. These matchups could very well decide whether they make the playoffs or not. Head coach Melissa Sharpe and the team understand the importance these last two weeks hold.
“Right now, [the plan] is one game at a time. Not trying to look too far ahead to the postseason, but we know that certainly what we do over the next two weeks really makes a big difference going into tournament play.”
Currently, the Pride sit at 5th place in the NEWMAC with a 3-3 record. They will face Wheaton and MIT to conclude conference play. They look to at least finish in fourth place to secure home field advantage for the quarterfinal round. In order to do that, they have to get past WPI, who is 3-2 in NEWMAC play. Fortunately Springfield has an easier schedule than WPI. The Engineers will play two of the top three teams in the conference in the next two weeks. On the other hand, Springfield will only play one of the top three teams.
“We feel very confident going in. We would love to have a good five game win streak to end the season. We are playing really well right now,” said Sharpe.
Springfield’s biggest test will come against No. 5 MIT in its final game of the regular season. The Engineers are 11-2 (4-1) and trail only No. 2 Babson for the top spot in the conference. Springfield has gone 0-2 against ranked opponents this year, but will look to turn that around in order to get the best possible seeding for the postseason.
One thing that is in Springfield’s favor is its strength of their schedule. When the season concludes, they will have played three top 15 teams in the nation. This will definitely help them make a deep tournament run, because it gives the players the experience of playing some of the best competition.
“I love playing a tough schedule. It shows you what you need to get better at,” said Sharpe after the Pride’s game against Williams on Sept. 27.
As her final season in a Springfield uniform slowly comes to a close, senior Maggie Kennedy stressed the importance of starting off this week on the right foot.
“Approaching the end of the season is definitely the push. Especially this week, we have three games in five days. If we push through that I think it that it will be very good to help out our mental state and physical state, and then we can carry that through the season.”
One thing that has surprised both Kennedy and Sharpe this season is the stellar play of freshmen defenders Tirzah McMillan and Morgan Bronk.
“We have had surprises with some of our freshman for sure. Tirzah and Morgan have played almost every single minute, which is nice to have as freshmen. Overall, we are very pleased,” said Sharpe.
“I feel like they really stepped up. On the field no one feels like they are freshman. They have shown a lot of leadership. It’s really transferred to the older teammates too,” said Kennedy.
If all goes well, Springfield could finish as high as third place. They would obviously have to win the rest of their conference games and hope for some losses from the teams above them. It will be a very busy two weeks for the Pride, but they are up for the challenge. They continue the home stretch as they take on Johnson and Wales on Thursday, Oct. 19th in Rhode Island.