The New England College Field Hockey team continued to build upon the success of last season by posting their second consecutive nine win season. The 2019 season was only the second season in the last seven years with nine or more victories. The team, which was led by both some outstanding individual accomplishments and a great team effort, achieved a winning record within NECC play for the second consecutive season. Despite losing in the conference semifinals to Manhattanville College, an overtime playoff victory against Husson University sets the program up for an even better result next season.
The Pilgrims started strong with a 4-1 record through their first five games. The run was capped off with a 2-1 win over in-state rival Plymouth State in a shootout. “We had an amazing performance against Plymouth State, taking them into a shootout and beating them for the first time in 10 seasons. It was a magical team win and really exposed the grit and tenacity the entire team possessed,” said Head Coach Carly Sweeney.
Despite a dip in the middle of the season that saw the team undergo a six game losing streak, the Pilgrims were able to rally and finish strong by winning four of their final six regular season games. The team clinched the 5th seed in the conference tournament and traveled to play Husson University in the first round of the conference tournament. After being tied at 1-1 through regulation, Brittany Tierney scored her second goal of the game only a little more than a minute into the overtime session to win the game.
“The team’s OT win against Husson in the NECC quarter finals was amazing to be a part of,” said Sweeney. “Everyone from our reserves, to our large contributors owned the job they were given, and executed at the highest level.”
Following the season ending 2-0 loss to Manhattanville College in the next round, Coach Sweeney was quick to praise her team: “This season went above and beyond the expectations set for this very young team . . . The entire team did an excellent job of embracing our end goal and working together to try and achieve it.”
Sweeney went on to add, “Our coaching staff is extremely proud of what the team accomplished this season. Our seniors left us a very solid foundation for us to continue to build on. They set the tone for what hard work can accomplish.”
One of the seniors who excelled was Tierney, who led the team and the entire conference with 23 goals and 51 points. She went on to be named to the All NECC First Team as well as being included on the All Tournament Team. This was her third consecutive season leading the Pilgrims in goals scored. She was joined receiving NECC honors by freshman Mikayla Vincent and junior Giuliana Kelvin, who were both voted onto the second team.
While the team had great veteran leadership, Coach Sweeney was inspired by the performance of the 16 first year players who contributed this season, adapting and learning the system quickly. Freshman Makenna Platte came in second on the team with 7 goals and 17 points while first year Defenseman, Renee Bouchard, led the team in minutes played while starting every game this season. The team was also helped by the performance of Goalkeeper Ellie Philben who recorded seven victories, saved 123 shots, and posted a 0.79 save percentage in her first season at NEC.
“We were extremely young this season which allowed us to create a lot of stability for core positions moving forward over the next couple of seasons. They have proven that they can adapt quickly, which is extremely important as we continue to bring in new talent and adjust to opponents,” said Coach Sweeney.
An overall more experienced team will be returning to New England College next August when they will be looking to improve upon a successful 2019 campaign and win their first NECC title.