Standing at 2-2 in the standings is just where the University of Maine field hockey team expected to be at this point in their season. After opening the 2004 season against Ohio State and Michigan, two top 20 programs, the team is pleased with a .500 record. While hoping to be competitive in their first two contests they may have surprised even themselves by beating Ohio State 2-1 and nearly beating Michigan, coming up short in a 3-2 overtime loss.
“I think we came out very well against Ohio State and Michigan,” said senior forward Rachel Hilgar.” We came out with a win and a loss in overtime, which was better than we were expecting.”
By taking on such tough non-conference opponents, the Black Bears hope they will be well prepared for their conference season when it begins later this month.
Following their opening weekend at home in the hot late August sun the Black Bears traveled to Fairfield Connecticut to pick up their second win, a 3-2 victory over Sacred Heart.
On Sunday, Maine played host to Providence. The outcome of that game was not what they had expected, suffering a 3-2 overtime loss. Amy Dubois scored for Maine in the first half and Rachel Hilgar’s team-leading third goal of the season tied the game in the second half at two. With a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, the game was sent into extra frames. Providence out shot Maine in sudden death and finally after 84 minutes of play, Amy Phillips notched her second goal of the day and the game winner. Maine had opportunities to score but came up short, finishing the game outshot by the Friars 22-16. Maine goalkeeper Jamie Morin made seven saves. Meredith Jones made 10 in goal for Providence.
“We did not play our best game,” said head coach Terry Kix, “and we still could have won the game. I think if we came out playing more of a passing game and playing more of a team style approach we would have been in great position to win that game.”
The loss was a bit of a setback for a Black Bear team that has shown such early success.
“I really think we took a step backwards against Providence,” said Kix.
At 2-2, the Black Bears are set to hit the road where they will play four out of their next five games before coming home to start their conference season against University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Heading into a weekend tournament in Connecticut against Fairfield and Temple, the Black Bears are well aware of how they can improve but they are happy with what they have accomplished.
“We lost a game we were expected to win and won a game we were expected to lose,” said senior back Liz Mendell. “We’re right about where we want to be.”
“Unfortunately we could be and should be 3-1 right now,” said Kix, “but we’ve been in a lot of close games and we’ve learned some good lessons.”
Nearly halfway through their non-conference schedule after the games in Connecticut, the Black Bears come home for a Tuesday afternoon game against Dartmouth. The game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. on Morse field. They play again the following weekend on the road against Harvard and Massachusetts. Then they will begin their conference schedule.
“I think we’ll be well prepared (for conference games),” said Mendell. “I think it’s good because we won’t see a better team than the first two teams we saw this year. If we can play well against teams like that, than we can hold our own against conference teams.”
“Our goal is to finish somewhere in the top four in the conference,” said Kix. “I feel very strongly that if we can continue to improve and develop that there’s no reason that we can’t challenge anyone in our conference.”