Field hockey uses team chemistry and preparedness to drive success

Undefeated in ODAC play, the field hockey team looks toward its long-time goal of winning the ODAC Championship as inspiration to continue “working toward perfection”

Adele Petagna

The women’s field hockey team improved to 7-4 with an away win at Eastern Mennonite last week and through offensive strength in Saturday’s game against Randolph-Macon, beating them 8-3. Now, the players say they can’t wait to keep moving forward and continue improving throughout the season.

Although the 2017 team is young, with seven first-years on the roster, Head Coach Gina Wills is confident in her team’s leaders to ensure the team is the best it can be.

“The older girls are doing a great job at working on team chemistry and making sure everyone is included,” she said. “The captains and all upperclassmen are great role models in practice and are constantly trying to improve the chemistry of the team.”

Lauren Paolano, ‘20, has assumed a large role on the team, despite her second-year status. Because the team is so young, Paolano has found herself a very vocal leader on and off of the field. She tries to encourage the first-years to feel self-assured in doing the same.

“Just because they are freshmen doesn’t mean they can’t step up and be leaders,” she said.

Paolano helped her fellow teammates by trying to make the first-years become more comfortable with the sport and the team. Because Paolano is a sophomore, she said she knows exactly what the first-years are going through, as she was in the same position last year.

She said she knows being the youngest and being new can be extremely intimidating. But once everyone steps on the field, age and experience become almost irrelevant. Everyone has to try their hardest, be vocal and be a leader during game time, she said.

Wills said the returning players, especially the juniors and seniors, know what it takes to be part of a successful team. Some of that success comes from talking about how the team can improve and develop. Wills says they try to work on this on a daily basis and that each day is a lesson in improvement.

Captain Haley Tucker, ‘19, said she is confident in her team, but says this is the point in the season in which it’s time to focus on the details.

“We’re at a point now that the margin for error is so slim, so every rep we take in practice has to be us working toward perfection, so that when the game comes the little things come easily,” she said.

This is Tucker’s third season with the W&L field hockey team and she said she’s striving to win an ODAC championship before she graduates.

This is also Coach Wills’s third season, so team members said they’re all very much on the same page with fighting for its first championship. The Generals have made it to the ODAC championship the last two years but have fallen short of victory both times.

Paolano said the field hockey team hasn’t won the ODAC championship since 2000, so winning this year would mean a great deal.

“Other than the big win,” Tucker said, “we obviously want to continue being a really close team and excelling in the classroom as well as on the field.”