By Tyler Browne
It’s just after 5:00 p.m. on a brisk October evening. The Springfield College field hockey team is playing an inter-squad scrimmage. Half the team are in white jerseys, the other half in maroon. One player in a white jersey stands out among the rest. Wearing the No. 14, Taylor Conley steals the show, scoring goals and recording assists as her coaches look on.
Conley, a senior in the Physical Therapy program, is a starting forward for the Pride. She’s started 61 of her 70 collegiate games, and has logged 54 goals. Only six other women have scored 50 goals in the history of the field hockey program at Springfield.
For Conley, this achievement is even more special because of who she shares it with.
“I really looked up to Maggie Kennedy, who was like right above me, so I learned a lot from her, and I’m happy to have the same milestone as her,” Conley said.
Kennedy finished her collegiate career with 56 goals scored. Conley is only two goals away from tying her former teammate with one regular season game remaining.
“I think it just shows a consistency she’s had in her career with scoring throughout her four years,” said coach Melissa Sharpe.
At this point, Conley scored another goal in practice.
“There’s another one,” Sharpe remarked.
In her rookie season, Conley started in all 19 games for the Pride, recording 15 goals.
“She was a goal-scorer as a freshman, which was great,” Sharpe said.
Now in her senior season, Conley continues to score goals. On October 19, she recorded two goals in a come-from-behind win against Wellesley. A week later, she scored all four Springfield goals against Wheaton.
“I couldn’t do it without Taylor Low, who’s been feeding me great balls to shoot in the goal,” Conley said.
Despite some setbacks, Sharpe noted that Conley has never given up.
“I know she’s been frustrated at times, but she’s just kept pushing and pushing,” Sharpe said after the Wellesley game.
Conley was recognized as the NEWMAC Offensive Athlete of the Week for her accomplishments, the first time she has received the honor.
“It feels pretty good to get it in my last year,” Conley said.
Sharpe felt that the honor was extremely well deserved.
“It’s well-deserved for sure. She had a huge game for us against Wheaton. She had all four goals, three of them coming in the first quarter, so it was great for her to get recognition for her offensive efforts.”
However, Conley recognizes that her success isn’t all on her.
“I feel like my field hockey intelligence has definitely improved with Coach Sharpe and all the great GAs that we have…Having more confidence as an upperclassman really helps,” Conley said.
Since her standout freshman season, Conley’s play has evolved each season.
“I think the [biggest] difference in her play is she’s gone from finishing goals as a freshman to now helping to create some of those goals as a senior,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe has also noticed some other changes in Conley’s play style.
“Her hits are a lot harder than when she came in. But she’s done a great job, especially on offensive corners for us. She’s been a key force for us these past couple seasons,” said Sharpe.
Conley has just one regular season game left with the Pride, but she has the potential to be a huge difference maker in the upcoming NEWMAC tournament.