The Crusaders will make their first appearance in the Patriot League Tournament since 2006
Mark Seliger Photography
Mark Seliger Photography
The Crusaders will make their first appearance in the Patriot League Tournament since 2006

Chemistry For Success

Holy Cross Athletics   11-04-2016

By Jackie Hart

Special to GoHolyCross.com

 

The last time the Holy Cross field hockey team qualified for Patriot League postseason play was in 2006 when they went 14-6 and finished as the runner-up in the tournament. That all ends now. For the first time in 10 years, the Crusaders have cemented their chance to bring home the trophy. More than that, Holy Cross has an opportunity to get their first tournament victory in 10 years against the American Eagles, who ended their 2006 run in a 5-3 loss in the championship game, as they take them on on Friday afternoon at Boston University at 4:00 p.m. 

 

Success like this does not just happen overnight. The field hockey team has been at work since early August, putting in hours and hours of work with one goal in mind: The Patriot League Championship. Junior captain Maureen Connolly says the preseason was a crucial part of forming the bonds that have propelled them to success. “Preseason was a great time for us to bond and grow as a team, on and off the field. Since then, our sound team chemistry has helped us win close games. We work hard everyday for each other and are incredibly mentally tough so it is very rewarding to see all of that dedication pay off with positive results.” 

 

This chemistry is a sentiment echoed across the team, and senior captain Rae Caliento says their impressive 8-4 record at home is due to the locker room bonding before their game. “When we're at home we do a lot of fun/funny things in the locker room like singing and dancing and it really brings the team together and gets everyone excited to play and I think that really makes a difference for us.”

 

As the Crusaders finished up the regular season at 9-9, it was been full of exciting games, including four overtime victories, two of which were double overtime and one that ended in a shootout win over Bucknell. Senior captain Kathryn Nutting stated this game as her proudest moment of the season“ Bucknell is a team that we have a lot of difficulty with. We went into that game as the underdogs by far. I was so proud of not only the way we played, but the focus, resilience and determination we showed in playing 100 minutes of field hockey and then performing in a shootout.” 

 

Having a team with a diverse offense certainly helps, as the team has had eight different players find the back of the net this season for a total of 30 goals, including Connolly’s 15, which places her tied for eighth in the record book for goals in a season and her 31 career goals that solidify her a spot in the school’s all-time career records at ninth. While an incredible honor, Connolly insists it is the women who came before her, and who play next to her that have helped her reach this point. “It's such an honor to currently stand ninth all time in career goals, the players on that list all did incredible things for the Holy Cross field hockey program and I am excited to have another season to compete in. This season has been tremendous and being recognized on the ranking shows the hard work this team has put in not only this year, but for the past few years as well.”

 

Closing up on her second season, head coach Lindsay Jackson has created an energized and positive atmosphere that has deeply inspired her players. Caliento says this is a major factor in their team’s success. “I think the biggest cause of our success is our team culture. Jackson spends a lot of time with us focusing on positivity and mindfulness.” Nutting agrees. “A lot of people use the phrase "practice what you preach" and I have never met someone who embodies that quite so much as coach Jackson does. She always has a positive attitude and she brings much needed energy to practice every day. Her positivity and her emphasis on resilience has helped us to overcome certain obstacles and low points in our season and in our careers.” 

 

Leadership is a piece of the puzzle coach Jackson says her team has excelled at to help reach the Patriot League Tournament. “I think our leadership from the seniors, and then our captains and leadership group were focused and determined to go further than we did last year, further than they have ever been and to have fun while we are doing it! We've got a great group of people and we have been enjoying what we do!” Coach Jackson especially praises the seniors; the hard work and dedication they’ve exhibited in their four years at Holy Cross, on and off the field. “The seniors this year have lead the team in such a comprehensive and impactful way. Each of them bring such unique qualities and characteristics to the program and the team and we just appreciate their dedication so much. They were determined to take this team to new heights and leave their mark and they absolutely have!”

 

After a successful regular season, the Crusaders  are gearing up for their long awaited tournament run. For the seniors, this used to seem like a far away dream. “Every year that I've been here our team creates goals at the beginning of the season, and each year our goal is to make it to the Patriot League Tournament,” said Nutting. “In my first two seasons that goal seemed very far from our reach and with our improvements last season is seemed that much closer. I think that for the seniors this trip to the tournament is a testament to how far our program has come since we started here three years ago and is only beginning of where the underclassmen will take the program in the future.”

 

Now that the dream is a reality, coach Jackson says the team has come so far and is prepared for the next phase of the challenge. “If we continue to build off of our strengths and can find the way to be our best on Friday we will put ourselves in a great position to be successful and we are looking to advance to the championship game on Sunday! It’s fun and exciting and its a huge step for our program- now we will focus in and work hard to advance further!”

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