The University of Maine field hockey team plays with a certain strategy that has become the norm over the last couple seasons and it’s one that most teams don’t work with. They use their two redshirt third-year goalkeepers, Emma Cochran and Emily Corbett, in almost every one of their games.
“It’s a rare strategy that’s used in this game, but we’ve found a way to use it to our advantage. Both Emma and Emily don’t mind splitting time and we have tremendous team confidence when they’re on the same page,” Head Coach Josette Babineau said.
The first of the goaltenders, Emma Cochran, was born on December 12, 1995 in Surrey, British Columbia and studies business management at UMaine. She attended Clayton Heights Secondary, where she was named best defensive player in 2009-2010 and most valuable player in 2011-2012.
“I started playing field hockey when I was 10 years old and starting playing goalie when I was 14. It’s been a fun journey,” Cochran said.
From 2006-2013, Cochran played for the Surrey Sharks and was a member of Team British Columbia from 2009-2013, where she won a gold medal in 2011 and a silver medal in 2010.
“I wanted to play field hockey because most of my friends were already playing, so I thought I’d give it a try and it’s worked out so far. It’s definitely my favorite sport,” Cochran said.
The other of the redshirt goalies, Emily Corbett, was born on July 10, 1994 in Listowel, Ontario, Canada and studies art education at UMaine. She attended Listowel District Secondary School, playing field hockey, ice hockey, soccer and track and field and was a two-time captain on the field hockey team, earning MVP during her senior year.
“I started playing when I was 17 and that’s also when I started playing goalie, so I’ve never had experience at any other position,” Corbett said.
In 2011 and 2012, Corbett helped lead the Ontario Provincial U18 team, winning gold and silver in those years, respectively.
“Field hockey has not always been my favorite sport, but I picked it up in high school myself and I’ve had success with it so that’s why I keep playing and try to help the team win,” Corbett said.
The goalies played very similarly in their first year at UMaine, both finishing with identical 5-5 records. Cochran played in 13 games, posting a 1.81 goals against average (ranked second in the America East) with 53 saves for a .726 save percentage (SP) where she was ranked sixth. Corbett on the other hand played in 12, posting a 2.02 GAA (ranked fourth) with 39 saves for a .672 SP.
“When we switch at halftime, our thinking is that we’re making it a disadvantage to the other team, who basically has to change their game plan since we have different styles of play,” Cochran said.
During their second year at UMaine, their playing time was split almost equally in the 23 games of the season and their statistics were also very close to the same.
“They’re both incredible. Don’t know if we would’ve been able to get this far without them. We feel good as a team to get a win, regardless of who’s in net,” second-year midfielder Casey Crowley said.
Those statistics from last year look almost identical, as Cochran started 12 games, posting a 10-2 record, 1.37 GAA with 36 saves for a .692 SP. Corbett started 11 games, posting a 9-2 record, 1.21 GAA with 45 saves for a .763 SP.
“Last year we talked about having a balance of playing time, where we didn’t want either one of them to get rusty, or to have to sit on the bench after a good game. Getting them into each game provides consistent action, so that they’ll be ready every time they’re on the field,” Babineau said.
So far this season, Cochran has seen a bit more action, playing in 13 games and starting seven, while Corbett has played in 11 and started six. Cochran has posted a 6-2 record, 1.73 GAA with 24 saves for a .649 SP, while Corbett has posted a 3-2 record, 2.00 GAA with six saves for a .353 SP.
“It doesn’t matter which one is in net, we’ll always have their back and we’re confident that they’ll get the job done,” second-year back Samantha Wagg said.
When the goalies do switch, they see it as more of an advantage to them and a disadvantage to the other team. They don’t allow the change to affect them and everyone on the team plays the game the same way.
“Everyone is always on the same page and our philosophy doesn’t change. We always have the same mindset,” Corbett said.
With the Black Bears standing at a 9-4 record, things are looking good to get into the playoffs. They are determined to continue playing at their best and hope to tally on some more wins.
“We’re confident in our standing right now, but we have to keep working hard to get a good spot in the playoffs and we don’t want to take anything for granted,” Babineau said.