Three months ago, the Profs started a mission not to repeat their previous season, but surpass it.
Not only earning their ticket to the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoffs or winning the entire tournament but to claim the title of being the top Division III field hockey program in the nation.
On Wednesday evening, the team will have the opportunity to start turning those goals into reality.
Rewarded a number three seed in the NJAC tournament, the Profs will travel to Union, New Jersey to face the number two seed, Kean University.
As the pressure will begin to mount, experience from returning players and their understanding of the importance of a playoff game will uplift the team’s confidence level, especially for the first-year players.
“The returners are very excited,” said sophomore Krystyna Hovell. “Some of the younger players, they haven’t really got to feel what it’s like to be in the playoff season. After their first game, they will realize it is so much more fun and we have to work 100 times harder than a regular-season game.”
Head Coach Michelle Andre unveiled a unique approach to how the first-year and second-year players will approach Wednesday’s game.
“They think they realize why they are here,” Andre said. “Every younger player had a purpose in what was happening this year. People have stepped up in situations … and they will understand why they were recruited to come here.”
The Brown and Gold will face a familiar foe, one that defeated them during the regular season with a 3-1 score, however, the team will undoubtedly seek their revenge on a greater stage.
Tactical adjustments and a different mindset heading into the game will be key elements to compete with a tough, relentless Cougar squad.
“We need to keep them in our attacking end and not let fast breaks and defensive breakdowns happen at the beginning of the game,” Andre said. “If there is a breakdown, making sure we are recovering at the right spots to minimize the damage.”
Led by the team’s leading scorer of the regular season with 17 goals, sophomore forward Hovell will play a more important integral role during the game against Kean, as a leader and player.
“We are going to come out a lot stronger and faster,” Hovell said. “I feel like we kind of underestimated them, which any team we play in the future we should not underestimate because it can be anyone’s game. We’re gonna have our head in the game and we’re not gonna let them get ahead of us.”
Momentum is certainly on the side for the Profs with three straight victories, and when asked whether Andre anticipates a four-game winning streak heading into the NJAC final, she firmly replied, “Yes. Better be.”
An eager Hovell agreed.
“Oh, 100 %. Can’t wait.”
Both teams, as expected, will pour their blood, sweat and tears on the field Wednesday night, as it is a win-or-go-home situation.
UPDATE: The Profs beat Kean 2-0 and will advance to the NJAC final against TCNJ on Saturday at 1 PM.
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