BY LAURA MCCANDLESS – STAFF WRITER
Centre College’s Field Hockey team has made it to the SAA Championship and received an NCAA tournament bid for the past two years, winning the SAA Championship against Rhodes College 4-3 last year and securing their first SAA tournament title.
The team is smaller this year than it has been in the past, but its size has created a tight-knit community amongst the teammates.
“I think this is the closest the team has ever been as far as the chemistry between all of them,” Coach Jenelle Anthony said. “Even when they’re off the field they’re always doing things together and they get along really, really well so I would say the dynamic within this group is probably the best since I’ve been here.”
This year’s captains are junior Ceci Volbrecht and the team’s only seniors, Julie Gates and Erin Mays. As Gates plays center forward and Mays is the center back, they balance each other well both on and off the field.
“We definitely anchor and support each other along with the rest of the team,” Mays said.
With the loss of only one senior and the addition of two first-years, Peyton Baer and Emily Schank, many of the same players from previous years are on the field. As such, they’ve kept most of their practice and preparation routines the same.
“One thing our coach has noticed in our games from last season is that we tended to overthink and overanalyze the game while playing, which causes nerves and silly mistakes,” Mays said. “So, one thing she tells us before every game or scrimmage is to ‘just go out and play, like it’s a summer pick-up game,’ and that has helped us a lot. When we don’t think too much and just play, that is when we play our best.”
Though the team had a great preseason, Mays said she is “obviously disappointed” with a record boasting two losses this early in the season.
“We played the two most difficult teams we will play all season,” she said. “We learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to improve, and are confident going into our next weekend of games.”
Anthony believes that these early losses will “help propel [them] and continue success throughout the entire season.”
“Even in the 2014 season, we started off a little slow and picked it up at the end,” she said. “I tell them that it’s not about how you start, it’s all about how you finish. So we have the time now and we’ve been able to play some real games. We can decipher where our weak spots are and make those adjustments in practice and we’ve already done so this week.”
As they continue into the season, Anthony notes that other teams will be coming at the championship-winning team with full force.
“You have to find a way to enter every game as if you are the underdog even though you’re the one everyone’s trying to beat,” she said. “We want to continue to try to push the reputation and the name of Centre Field Hockey that we’ve built for ourselves. I just want them to remain humble throughout the whole season but continue to work hard, and I think that’s what is going to help us remain successful.
“If we’re playing better hockey at the end of the season than we were at the beginning,” Anthony added, “then that’s a win.”