By Stephen Monohan
For the past four years, the Springfield College women’s field hockey team has relied on the divine scoring ability of Maggie Kennedy. During her tenure with the Pride, Kennedy scored 56 goals and racked up 136 points.
Coming into the year, the coaching staff looked towards upperclassmen to make up the production and to lead the team. The team has responded by outshooting opponents 49 to 7 throughout the first two games, and producing an 11-2 goal differential.
A driving force of their offense is junior forward Taylor Conley, who has scored six of the 11 Pride goals.
“I have more experience and confidence going into this year,” said Conley. “Working with Belle (Copponi) for my third year and having (Amanda Nusbaum) give great passes has allowed us to work well together.”
Hall’s early success has not gone unnoticed to coach Melissa Sharpe.
“Confidence is a big thing with her since its her junior season,” said Sharpe. “She quietly leads by example through placing herself in the right positions on the field.”
After a 6-1 victory at Eastern Connecticut State in the season opener, the Pride continued their momentum by taking down Westfield State at Stagg Field, by a score of 5-1.
The Pride got off to a quick start when Conley put a rebound into the back of the Westfield net to jump out to a 1-0 lead at the 28:41 mark in the first half.
Junior forward Belle Copponi and senior midfielder Amanda Nusbaum would continue the momentum for the Pride as they both scored to give Springfield a 3-0 half time lead.
After holding Westfield to zero shots in the first half, the Pride continued their unrelenting pressure when freshman midfielder Holly Rivers tipped in a shot from sophomore midfielder Taylor Low to extend the lead to 4-0 start the second half.
Westfield registered their first shot four minutes into the second half, when defensemen Abby Chernick found herself on a breakaway against Pride goalie Emmalie Drake.
As Drake edged out of her crease, Chernick flipped the ball past Drake’s glove side. The ball slowly creeped toward the net, as Drake raced backed in a desperate attempt to make the save. She dove and reached out her stick to knock the ball away just as it reached the front line of the net and preserve the shutout.
Westfield would get on the board in the 58th minute, when Jordyn Gosselin scored a goal off of a corner play.
Conley hit a long shot into the back of Westfield’s goal to finish the 5-1 victory for the Pride.
The relentless nature of the Pride offense has been a crucial strategy for coach Sharpe.
“Our mindset is very offensive and to get on the bored early to set the tone,” said Sharpe. “During every game, we try to put an offensive pressure on other teams to make it hard for them to come back.”
The Pride will look to continue their strong start to the season when they host Western New England University, this Wednesday at 4pm.
*Featured photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics