Jack Margaros and Darin MacEacheron
The Pride has not made it past the NEWMAC quarterfinals since 2012, the same year that they eventually went to the championship. Assuming there are not any upsets in conference action on Saturday, Springfield will most likely finish as the fifth seed and face Mount Holyoke in the quarterfinals of the NEWMAC tournament. Earlier in the season, Springfield traveled to Mount Holyoke and suffered a 4-2 loss, adding to a five year losing streak against the Lyons. Historically, Springfield has not defeated Mount Holyoke since 2012, when they beat them 3-2 in overtime. Adversity has been one of the themes of this team this year, as they had to labor through a five game losing streak. However, the team has comeback by winning six of their last seven games. Now going into the NEWMAC tournament, this team will face adversity once again as they try to overcome their historical struggles against not only Mount Holyoke, but in the quarterfinals of the NEWMAC tournament.
Players to Watch:
Senior forward Maggie Kennedy is arguably the biggest player to watch in the whole tournament. She has put together another spectacular season to add to her illustrious career. She leads the team with 47 points, 20 goals, and seven assists. She ranks in the top 20 in the nation for goals per game at 1.18. Surprisingly, she has put up all these stats and has only started 10 games of the 17 Springfield has played this year. She has had some of the best games of her career coming off the bench. Kennedy is definitely looking to end her senior year with a NEWMAC trophy hoisted above her head.
Sophomore forward Belle Copponi is also another player to watch going into next week. The combination of her speed and ability to score is why she ranks second on the team in goals with 10. Copponi and Kennedy have accounted for almost 50% of the Pride’s goals on the season. With Copponi’s breakaway speed and Kennedy’s blistering shot, the opposing teams have a lot on their hands when it comes to defending these aggressive goal scorers.
With a duo of seniors leading the offense, a duo of freshman lead the defense. Morgan Bronk and Tirzah McMillan have key contributors in preventing goals. It is rare to see freshman playing at such a high level in only their first year playing college field hockey.
Assuming Springfield will have to travel to Mount Holyoke, it’s possible that the Pride will be able to pull this one out and upset the Lyons. The combination of Kennedy and Copponi could be too much for the Lyons to handle. Also, Mount Holyoke has slowed down recently as they dropped a game to Smith recently, 2-0. Springfield beat Smith earlier in the year, 5-0, and is playing well at the right time. The Pride will be able to take advantage of a mentally depleted Lyons squad and come out with a solid win that will give them momentum heading into the next round.
In the semifinals, the Pride would have to face the Babson Beavers, who are ranked in the top five in the nation. Earlier in the year, Springfield lost to Babson 6-1. It was only a 2-1 game going into the second half, but Babson piled on four more goals en route to victory. Springfield has not been a second half team, as this situation has happened several times this year. Essentially, Springfield has to transfer their first half play into the second half in order to win this game. If they do not, we will see the same result as we did earlier in the season. Seeing that Babson is the number three team in the nation, Springfield will have their hands full if they end up making the semi-finals. On the other hand, if the Pride beat Babson, then there is no reason that they couldn’t win the NEWMAC championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.