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Field Hockey Shuts out Bisons, 4-0 to Prepare for NEW-8

By Daniel Wang
Sports Editor

Following a 10 win over University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth two days earlier, the field hockey team continued its string of successes with a 40 victory at home last Thursday, over Nichols College. The non-conference win brought the team's overall record for the season to 113, making it the winningest field hockey team in Institute history.

The Engineers had a slow start, but soon picked up steam and dominated the rest of the game. They spent a large part of the game with possession of the ball, in the Nichols half of the field. When not attacking, they did not allow the Bisons to go far with the ball.

Whenever a Nichols player tried passing or clearing the ball out of its half of the field, an MIT player was almost always there to intercept the ball. Coach Cheryl Silva credited her midfielders and defenders for making this as successful as it was.

Co-captain Catherine Mangion '95 said after the game, "People anticipated where the ball was going. [Nichols players] didn't have a chance to move the ball around."

For the first 20 minutes, despite some scoring opportunities for MIT, neither side really had a good shot at the goal. This, and the rains that fell sporadically, did not stop a small but fervent crowd of fans from cheering. At one time, fans led a cheer of spelling out "Massachusetts Institute of Technology," a ritual that had previously only been used at football games.

After achieving and retaining clear control of the ball, MIT finally broke the scoreless tie with 10 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the first half. Following a stoppage of play, Mangion restarted play with a pass from the outside of the penalty circle.

The pass traveled across the field, and found the stick of Carla Oshiro '95, who was waiting in front of the Nichols goal. Oshiro was in perfect position to score, which she did easily. There were a few more chances to score, but the goal would end up being the only one of the half.

The second MIT goal came a little more than seven minutes into the second half, which seemed much like a continuation of the first half. Mangion again was a part of this play as she set up a penalty corner pass that Pattie Hahn '96 stopped, allowing Katherine Merrilees '97 to blast the ball into the goal, increasing the MIT lead to 20.

A few minutes later, Nichols was actually able to bring the ball past mid-field, into the MIT half. With a little less than 22 minutes to play, Nichols came the closest to netting the ball, when an inbound pass hit the outside of the goal.

Five minutes later, Nichols had another chance to score when Christine Carlo stood in front of the MIT goal, ready for a pass from an approaching teammate. However, Carlo miss the pass, and MIT regained control.

MIT scored its third goal in quite an unusual fashion. A crowd of players from both teams inside the penalty circle made the action hard for spectators view. In what seemed quite confusing, the ball took a flight over the heads of the players, then bounced into the goal past an unsuspecting Nichols goalkeeper.

Apparently, Sohah Iqbal '98 took a shot at the goal and the ball collided with the stick of Merrilees, causing it to gain air. Iqbal was credited with the goal, with Merrilees providing the assist.

Despite having a minimal amount of time on offense, Nichols saw a golden opportunity to score when Kerry Sheehy received a pass and charged down half the length of the field on a solo breakaway. None of the MIT defenders were able to stop her, leaving goalkeeper Laura Walker '97 the only one between Sheehy and the goal.

Amid much excitement on the Nichols bench, Walker maintained her poise, forcing her adversary to shoot wide. The miss triggered excitement among the MIT spectators, who endured the rains.

Once possession returned to the Engineers, they were able to capitalize on their offensive strength and add another goal late in the game. On this play, Anshu Sinha '98 received the ball near the Nichols goal off a penalty corner play.

Sinha seemed to be in good position to score, but fumbled the ball. Fortunately, Stephanie Maifert '98 was nearby to recover the ball and send it into the goal to make the score 40.

With the team having scored two goals off of penalty corners, Mangion was even happier with the performance, and said, "We wanted to capitalize on corners, which we did."

The offense did not seem to let up after scoring. The MIT players were even looking for another goal in the closing seconds, which spectators counted down.

The control that the Engineers displayed throughout the game was clearly shown in the final statistics. In the entire game, the MIT offense took 30 shots on goals, while Nichols took only 9. Walker needed to make only two saves, while her counterpart made 14.

Both Silva and Mangion agreed that the team's ability to work together, and to place pressure on the opponent were ingredients to the its success. Both commented that the two factors contributed much to the win over Nichols, and are essential to success in general.

Overtime loss to WPI

The team played its final regular season Saturday at Worcester Polytechic Institute, which ended up in a heartbreaking 10 loss in sudden-death overtime. According to Mangion, MIT dominated most of the game, but could not put the ball into the net. WPI won the game off of a corner play with about six minutes remaining in the 15-minute overtime period.

Despite the loss to WPI, the Engineers continue one of their most successful seasons ever. Their record of 114 marks the first time in field hockey that MIT has won 11 games in a single season.

The loss to WPI has, however, affected the Engineers' ranking in the New England Women's Eight Conference, which decides seedings in the season-ending conference tournament.

Before the WPI game, the Engineers had a chance to tie for first place in the conference. With the loss, though, their final conference record stood at 33, in fourth place behind WPI, Wellesley College, and Babson College. For the first round of the tournament, the higher-seeded team will have the home-field advantage.

The Engineers will still host their first round game against Wheaton College, which had a similar record but lost to MIT in their meeting. The game will take place Thursday at 3 p.m. at the artificial turf of Jack Barry Field.

Mangion seemed to show some confidence in her team as it heads into post-season play saying, "This is the best team ever while I've been here."