Strong leadership helps field hockey go undefeated in conference play

With “unparelled” talent and leadership, field hockey goes into conference play undefeated and brings the ODAC championship to home turf

Larkin Holtzman

The Washington and Lee women’s field hockey team played their final regular season game on Oct. 28 at Virginia Wesleyan, edging out the Marlins 3-2 in a late rally.

The team now has a 12-4 record, going 7-0 in conference play. Because of this, all of the ODAC championship will be hosted at home

The women’s field hockey team owes much of its success to chemistry between its players and the leadership of its seniors, according to forward and team captain Haley Tucker, ’19. She said the team has been working hard to perfect its skills during practice as they prepare for playoffs.

“In the last few weeks especially, we’ve been harping on perfecting the little things during practice like receptions, passing, shot placement and individual defense,” Tucker said. “We’ve found that if we focus in on the small things, it really helps us put it all together in game situations.”

According to Tucker, coaches have been especially helpful in motivating every player to do her best.

Defender Olivia Hewitt, ’20, said they have taught the team to make overall improvement a steady process—one that involves taking things one day at a time.

“Whether that day includes working hard at practice, a tough morning lift or competing in a game, in order to be successful we must focus on each day and each play moment by moment,” said Hewitt.

The players also owe much of their success to the chemistry they have with each other. Hewitt said the team’s biggest strength is its ability to work together.

“With each day we have also grown closer to our teammates. We all know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of one another, which is vital to the team’s success,” Hewitt said. “This sense of togetherness stems from the excellent leadership not only from our captains but all of the upperclassmen on the team. They have motivated and guided our team to become the successful one it is today and will continue to be.”

There are three seniors on the team this year. Grace Bowen and Maggie Sands have been playing for the Generals since their freshman year. Lilly MacDonald joined the team as a sophomore. Tucker said the seniors have set incredible examples throughout their years on the team.

MacDonald, a defender, is a brick wall on defense, Tucker said.

“She is the backbone of our defense and is responsible for generating so many offensive opportunities when she makes those big stops. She very rarely misses a block tackle, and always comes up huge in big moments,” said Tucker.

Bowen is a forward and a team captain.

“She’s easily one of the hardest workers I know and leads by example in everything she does,” Tucker said. “She sets the precedent for culture and work ethic on our team, and is someone who everyone on the team can turn to for anything.”

Sands is a midfielder and a captain. She has been named Second Team All-ODAC for the past three years and has been selected as an alternate for this year’s Victory Sports Tours/NFHCA Division III Senior Game by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

Sixty players nationwide are chosen to play in the game, and 12 are chosen as alternates. Tucker said Sands’s skills are unparalleled.

“She is an absolute beast on the field and can outrun any person she goes up against,” Tucker said. “She always goes 100 percent in everything she does.”

Tucker credits strong leadership from the seniors with bringing the team closer together and training younger players.

“All three seniors are incredible people and teammates…people who I can’t imagine playing without next year,” Tucker said.