Field Hockey to play for title after topping Fairfield
By Jasmine Robinson
Nov 7, 2014
With their season on the line, the University at Albany (17-2) field hockey team pulled off a 2-1 win against the evenly matched Fairfield University Stags (7-12) on Thursday afternoon. The cold and rainy weather did not set the scene for an ideal game, but it didn’t stop the Great Danes from clinching the win in the America East conference tournament semifinals, sending them to the conference title game. The victory is UAlbany’s eleventh straight, a season record.
The Great Danes faced a great deal of foul trouble as the game began, which reflected in no goals by the half. The penalties slowed down their forward progression, a problem to which coach Phil Sykes had the answer. “It’s tough, because when you get to the conference tournaments, it’s nervy. There’s a lot on the line; your season could end today,” he said.
These nerves saw the Great Danes fail to convert in Fairfield’s circle, taking 13 shots on goal with little success and turning the ball over due to fouls. However, difficult calls made against the Danes didn’t stop UAlbany’s impeccable passing game, which went around Fairfield’s tough defense. “I thought we had some good chances, but their goalie played well,” Sykes said of Fairfield goalie Caitlyn Bennett, who made 11 saves.
UAlbany dominated offensively, spending most of the game on the Stags’ side of the field, utilizing all of their players to move the ball around. Defensively, Jaclyn Hibbs and Fiori Van Rijswijk stayed strong, holding Fairfield to only one offensive corner.
The second half of the game saw a revitalized Great Danes offense. Although the Great Danes saw less foul trouble, they couldn’t capitalize on their corners. UAlbany had four offensive corners in the second half, but only converted on one at the start of the second half. Sophomore Paula Heuser was able to make the quick shot off a corner, with an assist from Laura Page, putting UAlbany up 1-0. The Stags were quick to answer with a corner of their own, which tied the score 1-1 with 26 minutes left in the game.
Heuser put the Great Danes in the lead on a penalty stroke in the 55th minute, scoring the game winner. “In practice, she hadn’t been making them very well, so I’m glad she stood up and made a good shot,” Sykes said of Heuser.
After the game, the goal scorer was nearly speechless. “It’s such a relief, it was a good game.” Heuser said with a smile on her face.
Maxi Primus, UAlbany’s sophomore goalkeeper from Germany, made a key diving save in the last 10 minutes of the game to keep UAlbany in front. “I was nervous because it was a close game. Fairfield played an awesome game, to be honest,” Primus said. “I just thought ‘I need to save this ball.’”
Coach Sykes was confident in their practice in the previous week leading up to Saturday’s game versus the University of New Hampshire. “All season we’re taking one game at a time, but we’re confident going in and we’re hoping for the best,” he said.
UAlbany hosts UNH at 1 p.m. at Alumni Turf this Saturday, Nov. 8 with a conference championship and an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
Click here for highlights of UAlbany’s win over Fairfield.