By Robert Dickey
SPRINGFIELD — Senior Amanda Nusbaum was determined. With the ball on her stick in overtime she knew that just one goal would guarantee that her last game in the maroon and white would not be the first day of November.
As she rushed towards the circle, Nussy, as her teammates called her, fired off a shot into the circle that looked like it was going to go wide of the net. All of a sudden, the ball was directed by what seemed to be a Springfield player and found the back of the net.
The crowd went wild as the Pride started to rush the field. They were quickly stopped in their tracks though as the referees decided to conference in order to discuss whether the goal deflected off an offensive or defensive player. After half a minute of deliberation, it was decided that a Smith College defenseman had tipped in the goal and not a Springfield College offensive player.
“I thought we had a touch on it,” said an emotional head coach Melissa Sharpe after the game. “I thought one of our players had redirected it in. They’re saying it didn’t touch an offensive player in the circle, I honestly don’t know,”.
The play turned out to be make or break for Sharpe and the Pride as they ended up dropping the NEWMAC semifinals to a very good Smith team by a final score of 2-1 in double overtime on Thursday at Stagg Field. The game was an instant classic that now sees Smith play MIT in the NEWMAC championship on Saturday and the Pride without another game to play.
Part of the reason that the game even got into overtime was the play of goalie Emmalie Drake. Drake was undoubtedly the Pride’s top performer in her last field hockey game in a Springfield uniform. The senior stopped 18 of 20 shots that came her way in the 84 minutes of play. Her best saves came in overtime when on numerous occasions, Smith players attacked the net on breakaways.
“I said to Emily there would be no overtime if she didn’t play the way that she did in regulation,” explained Sharpe. “She stepped up big when we needed her to.”
Freshman Kyra Ashe scored the Pride’s lone goal in the second half which gave them a temporary 1-0 lead. Smith tied the game up with a little over five minutes to play with a goal by Neva Richardson and won it on a goal by Emily Biggs.
This season will go down as a strong one for Springfield despite the devastating loss. “We don’t always have the prettiest of finishes and when we scored we scored in buckets,” Sharp said. “They’ve certainly done a lot of things scoring wise and assist wise that we have not done in a very long time with the program.”
For the four seniors (Nusbaum, Drake, Emily Knobel and Hannah Boylan) this game was the last time they will suit up for Springfield field hockey. Luckily for the Pride, they return a strong group of young players that will hopefully put them in a good spot to be successful next year as well.
Featured photo courtesy of Sam Leventhal