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Times are tough as hockey awaits NEW8

By David Rothstein

The field hockey team enters this year's New England Women's Eight Conference championships as a longshot, having won but two of 16 games this season, and none against its six NEW8 opponents. (Brandeis University does not field a team).

The Engineers will travel to Northampton, MA, on Thursday to face the second-seeded Smith College Pioneers, to whom MIT lost, 3-0, earlier this month.

It has been a frustrating season for head coach Sue Landau and her team, as wins have been few, and losses, by few goals or many, have been frequent. It has been a season that has coach and players defining their goals not in terms of a strong record, but of a strong effort. Of gaining experience for younger team players, in hopes that next season will bring better fortune to the Engineers.

MIT has a capable defense, anchored by senior goalkeeper Helen Shaughnessy, who has made 233 saves this season, with an 89-save percentage. But the Engineers have had little luck in scoring themselves.

So while any team can say it must score to win, this aim is all the more imperative for MIT.

"We are pretty much underdogs in all that we're doing here," said team captain Karlin Anderson '91. "We want to make the other team -- even if they win -- work hard" to respect MIT.

Landau cited Anderson's leadership throughout the season, noting that it was a "major factor in any of the success that we have accomplished."

Landau is planning no special strategy for Thursday's game.

"I don't like to go into a game and say, `Let's play this way,' and totally readjust our game to try to win," said Landau. "We'll try to keep them from scoring, playing a very defensive game. But we'll also take risks and play our game."

Landau called MIT's earlier meeting with Smith a good game, noting that while she thought Smith to be the stronger team, "in any sport anything can happen.

"The team seems to be pretty up, which is pretty remarkable for a team that has won only 2 games," she added.

The tournament's first-seeded team, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, whom MIT will meet this afternoon in a makeup game, earned a bye in the first round of play.

MIT is hosting the NEW8 championships. The semifinal games will be played on Jack Barry Field on Saturday, and the final will take place on Sunday.