By Tyler Browne
SPRINGFIELD — Last season, the Springfield College field hockey team was eliminated in the NEWMAC semifinals by Smith College. It was the end of a 12-6 campaign, but now the Pride is back.
“I think each season is different,” said head coach Melissa Sharpe, who is going into her 16th season leading the Pride. “Every year is a different group of players. A few leave, a few come in, but each year, it’s a different dynamic.”
Already, this new team has shown promise, especially in last Saturday’s matchup against Keene State. At halftime, the Pride were down 4-1, but Lily Depew, Emma Wesoloski and Kyra Ashe each scored a goal in the second half, forcing overtime. In the extra period, Taylor Low scored a game-winning goal at the 63:10 mark.
Sharpe couldn’t remember anything like it: “I was trying to remember over the weekend the last time we had that much of a deficit and came back. Three goals is a solid deficit at halftime. I’m not sure if we’ve [come back from] three before.”
Something to look out for this year is the Pride’s offense. In their first four games, the team has already scored an impressive 20 goals, 10 of them coming in just their first game. Last season, the Pride averaged 4.3 goals per game, and 18.8 shots per game. Through the first four games of 2019, they are averaging 5 goals per game, and 26.3 shots per game. If they can keep these numbers up, they could go even further in the postseason than last year.
The defense has also been playing well, as the Pride have already won two shutouts, against Bridgewater and Fitchburg.
“[A shutout] definitely sends a stronger message,” Sharpe said.
Player to Watch
One new player this year is already turning heads. In just her first game at the collegiate level, freshman Carley Torrance tied the record for assists in a single game with four.
“[That] was awesome,” said Sharpe. “Especially because we had her playing a position she wasn’t as comfortable playing. She played more forward in high school and we had her playing a bit of midfield that day.”
Sharpe says that the team was already aware of Torrance’s versatility: “She came in as a very talented player. We knew we were going to be very versatile with her.”
Torrance is listed on the roster as a midfielder, so it is expected that she will continue to play this newer position. She shares the single game assists record with midfielder Amanda Nusbaum, who now works with the Pride as a graduate assistant coach after graduating last spring.
Sharpe has noticed versatility in not just Torrance, but many other members of the team.
“[It’s] interesting because some of the goals aren’t coming from our forwards. It feels good to know that players at all positions on the field are able to step up and score for us. We’re happy with the output so far,” said Sharpe following Tuesday night’s win against Fitchburg.
Already, Sharpe has high hopes for the squad, saying that “We do [hope to reach the NEWMAC finals]. It’s early, we haven’t hit conference play yet. For us right now, it’s just trying to take each little thing we’re doing well in a game and build upon that.”
This team definitely has a lot of potential. Despite losing Nusbaum, who led the Pride in assists last year, many other key players from last year, including 2018 points leader Kyra Ashe and senior forward Taylor Conley, are back for 2019. The early success, especially on the offensive side, is encouraging, and if the defense can hold off opponents, the Pride could win the NEWMAC title in November.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics