Field hockey tops Rochester in NCAA Tournament

Maya Tumiwa ‘22 celebrates her go-ahead goal in Denison’s 2-1 win over Rochester in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The win was the team’s first in the NCAA Tournament since 2000. Unfortunately, the team then fell in the second round against #4 Tufts. The Big Red will close their 2019 season with an impressive 17-4 record. Photo: Craig Hicks/Sports Information

JOEY SEMEL, Editor-in-Chief—It was cold, but the Big Red came out hot.

The Big Red field hockey team was able to ignore the cold temperatures and pick up an NCAA Tournament win on the road at Rochester.

Just eleven minutes in, Maya Tumiwa ‘22 added netted the first goal of the game off of an assist from AC Veith ‘22 on a penalty corner. The goal was Tumiwa’s seventh on the season.

After a scoreless second period, the Big Red were able to strike again, but this time Veith did the dirty work, converting on a penalty corner from Charlotte Happel ‘20. Rochester was able to cut into the lead late in the fourth, but the comeback was cut short and the BIg Red picked up their first NCAA Tournament win since 2000.

Abby Scully, one of the team’s five All-North Coast Athletic Conference selections, spoke to what the tournament win meant to the team.

“It was an amazing feeling to win in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It meant a lot to the team that we were able to show how our hard work has paid off. We understand how much of a privilege it was to have this opportunity, and we knew we had earned our spot in the tournament. We stress how important it is to focus on one game at a time, so it was really cool to be able to win with such an amazing group of women. It was also Coach PJ’s first tournament win since her first year coaching at Denison, so it was a really special experience to be able to share that with her,” Scully said.

She also talked about the simple gameplan going in: keep it simple.

“Going into the game, we knew that if we wanted to win we had to show up for all four quarters. Sticking to the basics and focusing on the fundamentals was a key part of our game that got us into the sweet sixteen. We are more than a team. We are family, so it was important to play for each other and to remember why we were there,” Scully said.

Thanks to the first round win over Rochester, the Big Red had the opportunity to travel to Baltimore, Maryland, where they would take on fourth-ranked Tufts.

Unfortunately, the team was unable to beat a strong Tufts side, falling by a final score of 3-0 in the sweet sixteen.

The wrap up to the season wasn’t all negative for the Big Red. As mentioned above, the team featured five All-NCAC selections. Joining Scully on the team was Rachel Kelsey ‘22, Charlotte Godfrey ‘21, Veith and Tumiwa. Scully was also chosen as midfielder of the year, while Kelsey was the defensive player of the year.

Unfortunately, the loss brings the end of strong careers for the team’s seniors: Charlotte Happel, Ali Gakenheimer and Caroline Little. Scully spoke to how the seniors have impacted her during their time here at Denison.

“Our seniors we phenomenal leaders, teammates, and friends. Being able to play with these three seniors for three years has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. As a player and leader, they always held me accountable to be the best that I can be–not just for the team but for myself too. I will forever be grateful for that. Each one of them challenged me to be a better leader in different ways, but together, they reminded me to always be open-minded, kind, patient, and determined. They reminded me every day that it is a privilege to be a part of this team, and that it should never be taken for granted. They have played a huge role in shaping me into both the athlete and person I am today. Words cannot describe how much they will be missed,” Scully said.

Despite the loss of that core group of seniors, Scully and the team are beginning to look forward.

“After all that we accomplished this year, we have so much excitement for what’s to come. Each year is a new year, but we are ready to build off of what we have worked on in order to get back to the tournament,” Scully said.

The Big Red will close their 2019 campaign with a strong record of 17-4.

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