Mercyhurst field hockey Head Coach Stacy Gaudette stood on the turf of Tullio Field, drawing up her next play for the field hockey team’s practice.
The team stood at an even 7-7, a game over the .500 mark in PSAC competition, knowing that the next two games would define the team’s standing in-terms of a modified postseason format.
“We’ve been steadily improving over the course of the season and we’ve continued to get better as we go through,” Gaudette said.
Unfortunately, the team was held scoreless over the games on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 24.
The two matches set the Lakers at 7-9 and 4-5 in conference play. They won four of their last six games dating back to Oct. 7, and can finish the season at an even .500 with wins in Indiana on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and at home on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Gaudette, now in her 13th season as head coach, saw her playoff hopes first diminish with a 2-0 defeat against the third-ranked West Chester and witnessed her team get outshot 18-9 and out-cornered 13-7.
The Lakers played their second consecutive offensive shutout in a frustrating 1-0 loss at home on Saturday against Bloomsburg.
Combined with Shippensburg’s win at Seton Hill, the Lakers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
The Lakers game against Bloomsburg on Saturday, Oct. 24, dropped the Lakers’ record to 7-9 despite a 1.77 goals-against average.
“We still had some good things come out of that game. We played a tough team [Bloomsburg] and we just know we needed to finish our opportunities,” Gaudette said.
Senior Sam Takac noted the difference in the Huskies’ strategy during the game compared to the Lakers.
“They have all 11 girls in the defensive unit, so everybody that’s on the team plays defense altogether, and as soon as they get the ball, the forwards break and go forward. It’s hard to beat them with only eight of our girls attacking,” Takac said.
The Lakers roller-coaster began with losses in their first four contests while being outscored 12-4, then won three straight from Sept. 15-23, behind Mercyhurst freshman Jessica Brandon, who recorded a hat-trick in the team’s contest against Mansfield. They then held the top three teams in the conference, nationally-ranked Kutztown, Millersville and East Stroudsburg, to a combined five goals, but fell with a lack of support.
Brandon recorded her second hat-trick on Oct. 7, against Indiana in a 6-4 home win, sparking another four-game winning streak. This includes the upset of Shippensburg and giving the Lakers their best offense of the season at 14 goals in four games heading into the West Chester game.
The losses to West Chester and Bloomsburg were not bad games. However, they simply came at an inconvenient time as Shippensburg followed their upset loss with a four-game hot streak and three straight shutouts before clinching a postseason spot with a 3-1 win at Seton Hill on Saturday.
The secret to the Lakers offense is different for every game, successful on most occasions.
“I think it’s just one of those things where we have a great attack, we have a great forward line. It’s just misfortunate that we didn’t get any goals, but I know that the next few upcoming games we’re going to put it in the back of the net,” sophomore Amanda Frappolli said.
Frappolli has seen limited but increased playing time in six second-half appearances, scored her first collegiate goal against Indiana on Oct. 7.
Fourteen Lakers have scored so far this season. Six players have multiple goals this season including Brandon, sophomore Taylor Balser, freshman Katelyn Smith, senior Andrea Goldbach, freshman Kaitlyn Lechner and senior Amanda Schanz.
Gaudette’s 100th career victory also came this season in the team’s win over Slippery Rock.