Sports

New coaches, goalie look toward promising season

By
Sports Editor
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Each season, teams change —  seniors graduate, first-year recruits arrive and, sometimes, new coaches are hired. But the field hockey team has undergone a more significant overhaul this past summer than usual, hiring Head Coach Jill Reeve and Assistant Coach Jillian Brown and adding eight first-years to round out the roster at 20.  

One of those rookies is Shannon McSweeney ’15, the team’s lone goalkeeper. Last season, the squad had three goalies, none of whom were graduating. But before McSweeney arrived, all three left the team to pursue other interests at Brown, according to tri-captain Leslie Springmeyer ’12.  

“It’s kind of funny, though, to think that last season they had three goalies on the team, and you would think the coach wouldn’t recruit another goalie,” McSweeney added. “It was strange fate that she decided to recruit another goalie.”

Springmeyer said the team normally recruits one goalie a year, because often one of the returning keepers opts to leave the team due to scheduling conflicts. Losing all three was unexpected, but the team is impressed with McSweeney, Springmeyer said.  

Before coming to Brown, Reeve was head coach at Miami University in Ohio for seven years, “building the program from the ground up,” she said. The season before Miami hired her, the Red Hawks had a 1-17 record. In the next two seasons, Reeve led the Red Hawks to a combined 17 victories.

The Bears, for their part, have struggled in recent years. They went 5-12 in 2009 with an Ivy League record of 0-7 and an away record of 0-8. Last season, the team improved marginally to 6-11 overall, with a 3-4 conference record.  

But Reeve does not want to measure the Bears’ success this year in the black-and-white terms of wins and losses. “I’m mostly focused on growing the team in their technical strengths,” Reeve said. “I’m not really focused on the outcomes right now. It’s hard to predict what will happen. There’s a potential to have a really successful season.”

Springmeyer said the players reached the same conclusion, deciding “to look at each game individually, instead of looking at the overall record,” she said. “Any team will start digging itself in a hole if it does that. We’re going to put losses in the past, even wins in the past. We’re not going to let outside factors influence us.”

Right now, the team is 1-1, after a 5-0 loss on the road to the University of New Hampshire (4-0) and a 3-2 victory at home over University of California at Davis (2-2).

Between the two halves of the UNH game, Reeve said she saw tremendous improvement. In the first half, the Wildcats scored four times. After the half, the Bears allowed only one goal. The team then carried over that improvement to the game against UC Davis, which was tied 2-2 until the team’s lone junior, Kelley Harrison ’13, scored a game-winning unassisted goal with 5:49 left.

“Right now we’re a little bit careful on both sides of the ball, and we need to upgrade that and unleash what we have to offer,” Reeve said. “Holding back is very limiting. That’s one piece we need to get better at immediately.”

Despite letting in five goals on 28 shots in her first college game, McSweeney said she found the experience exciting.

In the first two games, the other seven first-years also saw playing time, according to Reeve. She said she wants the team to play a high-paced game, which means there has to be a constant and quick substitution rate. She said the strategy has worked well so far because of the team’s depth.

“I see lots of greatness in this team,” Reeve said. “My challenge is to get them to see that greatness in themselves.”

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