Preview: Field Hockey Seniors After First Win vs. F&M

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - page 2

Over the course of the last four years, the seniors on the Muhlenberg field hockey team have played 17 other schools, and they have at least one win against 16 of them. The only exception? Franklin & Marshall.

Samantha Swire The Mules will get a chance to fill in the missing piece of the puzzle that when they travel to Ursinus to take on the fifth-ranked Diplomats in a Centennial Conference semifinal game on Saturday at 2:30.

Sixth-ranked Ursinus faces Johns Hopkins in the other semifinal of a powerhouse tournament that features three of the top five teams in the region in the all-important NCAA rankings. Ursinus is second, F&M is third, and Muhlenberg is fifth.

Despite their 0-4 record, the Mule seniors have always played close games against the Diplomats, losing 3-1 their first two years and 2-1 the last two. Each time, F&M was ranked in the top six in Division III.

This year’s meeting was tied 1-1 at halftime. The Diplomats scored the winning goal midway through the second half.

“We definitely hung with them,” said senior Samantha Swire (left). “It was a tough loss. We’ve taken advantage of getting the bye this week to work on the changes we need to make.”

Muhlenberg (12-4) doesn’t need to make any drastic changes. Just three years after finishing 5-12, the Mules have been close to the top 20 for the entire second half of the season. Their 12 wins are the most in program history since 2007, and the seniors have already beaten three teams (Elizabethtown, Haverford and Johns Hopkins) for the first time this season.

“What works for this team is that we have a lot of heart,” remarked Swire, who is third on the team with 16 points. “No matter what the circumstances, we work together. And I think that shows on the field. When we play together, we dominate.”

Allie Califano The Mules have shown dominance at both ends of the field. They have scored the second-most goals in a season in program history (49), six shy of the school record set nearly 50 years ago. They ranked in the top 15 in Division III in goals-against average for most of the season until giving up seven goals in Saturday’s regular-season finale against Ursinus.

It wasn’t hard for the team to find a silver lining to that game, which was 2-0 at the half.

“The score didn’t show how well we played,” said Swire (left). “The main positive is that the AstroTurf didn’t hinder us at all, and that’s a huge plus considering the tournament is going to be played there.”

Of course, F&M is not a team to be taken lightly. The Diplomats have lost only once this year, 5-2 to Ursinus, and have been to the championship game each of the last three years. But the Mules, who have not won a playoff game since 2006, hope to counter that experience with their desire to make a name for themselves.

“The will is there for sure,” said Swire. “Making it to the championship game would be great for us and great for the program.”

pictured at right: Allie Califano is one of eight senior starters for the Mules.