As October comes crashing to a close, so does the regular season for the Springfield College field hockey team. With just two games left to play, only one which is a league game, Springfield looks to break out of a three-way tie for second place and host a NEWMAC playoff game.
The Pride come into the last week of the season with an impressive 11-5 record and are riding a four-game winning streak. In conference play, Springfield is 5-2 and are coming off one of their better wins of the season against Wheaton College. In that game, the Pride put up 10 goals and only allowed two. They are hoping that they can use the momentum from that game, along with recent victories to ensure a bye for the playoffs.
The top two seeds in the NEWMAC playoffs receive a bye from the first round of play. With a win over MIT on this Saturday, Springfield will lock up the two seed and be able to rest during the first round of playoffs. They will also earn the privilege of hosting a playoff game which is something the team greatly desires.
After the game against Wheaton, Coach Melissa Sharpe spoke about what her team needs to do to secure the bye week. “We just gotta go in and we just gotta have that mentality that it’s gonna be a huge day,” said Sharpe “We have to come out as prepared and as energetic as we did today and put ourselves in a good spot for the postseason”.
If the Pride can take care of a good MIT team on Saturday, their goal for the regular season will be succeeded. A loss would drop them out of the second spot and could find the team as low as No. 5 in the standings.
Player to Watch
The star of this year’s team has been senior Amanda Nusbaum. Nusbaum is one of four seniors on the team that has provided incredible leadership to the younger players on the team and produces even more on the field.
Nusbaum leads all of Division III in assists and is a large part in why the team has put up 51 assists on the season. She has racked up 23 of those assists for her team to go along with six goals.
In her most recent game against Wheaton College, Nusbaum proved her value in what could be her last home game ever. The assists leader showed up on senior day adding three more assists to her league leading total while scoring twice in a 10-2 Pride victory.
Nausbaum continues to stand out to everyone watching. Coach Sharpe talked after the win against Wheaton the effect that Amanda had on the offense.
“A lot of energy coming onto the field” said Sharpe. “Continuing the pressure as we went through the game [Amanda] didn’t let up, taking shots anytime they are open and just kind of setting the tone for us offensively,”.
The win against Wheaton was a different type of win for Amanda and the three other seniors on this years team.
“It’s weird being a senior” said Nusbaum after the win. “Senior day is different. We try to come out like its a regular game but there’s definitely an extra edge there,” she claimed.
As her career in the maroon and white comes to a close, the Conway, New Hampshire native hopes that she can help her team during the final week of the season get closer to securing the second spot in the NEWMAC playoffs and earn a bye during the first round. The team will rely on Nusbaum to continue her dominance over the rest of the league whether the bye is achieved or not.
The rest of the year will be played on the road unless the Pride can earn themselves a home game in the playoffs. Traveling to Salem State for a non-conference game is the first step Springfield will take to hopefully winning out the rest of the year.
Salem State has not won a game the entire year as the Pride will go in as clear favorites over the Vikings, and Springfield should be able to easily handle them. As a non-league game, the win would be nice to have but it is not what the Pride have circled on their calendars for this upcoming week.
On Saturday, the Pride will head into enemy territory and take on a solid MIT team that looks to knock them out of the two spot in the NEWMAC playoffs. Springfield has been a solid team away from Alden Street this year as they have earned every win of their 4-3 road record.
MIT comes in with a 9-6 record to go along with their 4-3 in conference record. A far tougher task than both Wheaton and Salem State, the Pride will have to take their game to another level if they want to have what it takes to beat the Engineers.
If Springfield can continue their positive trends on the season they should have no trouble defeating MIT. The Pride have averaged 4.6 goals per game and are just giving up an average of 2.3 goals per game. They will have the momentum of at least a four game-winning streak charging at MIT along with a vicious offensive attack. Seniors Amanda Nusbaum, Emmalie Drake, Emily Knobel and Hannah Boylan will all look to excel in their final regular season game ever.
If all goes as planned, the Pride will finish with a record of 13-5 and host the semifinals of the NEWMAC playoffs. The seniors will be guaranteed at least one more game at Stagg Field and will look to make a worthwhile run before the lights turn off on their Springfield College careers.
Photo courtesy of Springfield Athletics