They responded emphatically.
The Big Red wasted no time getting the scoring started in their home game this past Thursday, March 7 against the Lynx from Rhodes College.
Denison entered the game with a 1-2 record after coming off a 14-4 road loss against the #1 ranked team in Division III, the Gettysburg Bullets in what was the team’s first road contest of the season.
Maddy Heher ‘19 is a force to be reckoned with for the Big Red’s attacking unit. She spoke to how the team has responded to such high-caliber competition this early in the season.
“It is always a privilege for us to play out of conference games, especially the chance to play against the #1 team and former NCAA champs. Since we do not face many tough or competitive games in the NCAC, we need these games to help us prepare for the competition we see postseason,” said Heher.
She commented further, specifically on how the team has made positive takeaways from the loss.
“Even though it was not the outcome we expected, gave us the opportunity to test some new formations we’ve been working on in the attacking end and push our limits on defense. Our defense stepped up and came up with stops at crucial moments in the game, which gave us the confidence that we have the potential to compete at this level. We made a lot of fixable mistakes in this game and we feel as though the score does not represent how close the game was.”
Heher was one of many offensive contributors on Thursday when the team bounced back with a vengeance against the Lynx.
Her two first half goals and one assist helped her team earn a 10-6 halftime lead.
Despite finishing the game with an impressive three goals and four assists, Heher was far from the only member of the Big Red to see her name in the final box score which read 17-11 in favor of Denison.
Kiely Noonan ‘20 led the team with 14 shots (11 on-goal) and finished the game with four goals.
Noonan spoke to the intricacies of the Big Red offense that was running smoothly during Thursday’s win.
“We have really stressed being able to get big, move the ball fast, and being dynamic with our movements. With all of those things comes being patient with the ball and making sure we’re hitting the right looks at the right time. Our attack is very diverse, and we have a lot of talent and room for individuals to highlight their strengths so part of our success comes with being able to do that for those people,” Noonan said.
Liza Farnham ‘21 and and Lindsey Karsh ‘21 each added two goals, while Virginia Hamilton ‘19 scored a goal and had two assists.
Hannah Magarian had a strong game in goal as well.
She played all 60 minutes and saved 9/20 shots from the opposing Lynx attack.
Looking ahead, the Big Red will begin their North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) competition on Wednesday, March 13 on the road against Allegheny who is 2-1 on the season thus far.
After that, though, the team will be eager to head to Florida for their spring break trip where they will play three non-conference opponents during the week, including #9-ranked Trinity (Conn.) and #21-ranked Rowan.
Heher anticipates a tough challenge on what what will be her fourth and final spring break trip with the team, but she feels her team is ready to take it on.
“Spring break is going to be an amazing opportunity for us to play three competitive and intense games that we won’t see again until the end of our conference run. We are looking forward to the chance to showcase all that we have learned within the last few weeks against strong teams from the east coast. It provides us a chance to spend countless hours together that we don’t get during our normal weeks at school. This year our team is closer and has more chemistry off the field than any of my previous years. We are so excited for what’s to come and spring break will be our moment to prove that to ourselves and all the teams in the NCAA who are anxious to see what we can and will bring this season,” Heher said.
Keep an eye out for this year’s squad who is poised for another year at the top of the NCAC and an NCAA Tournament run!