Last season, the field hockey team did not win any away or conference games. This season, the team is determined to correct that by getting back to the basics.
"We've talked a lot about fine-tuning our basics, keeping the gameplan simple and being prepared," said Head Coach Tara Harrington '94. "We're just really fine-tuning and being sticklers about the basics of the game. That's priority number one."
The most basic aspect of the game does not even pertain to field hockey itself. The basics start with "controlling our fitness and strength," the coach said.
"We're preparing mentally and physically for each game," said forward Leslie Springmeyer '12. "We're going to prepare mentally on the bus" to away games, with the hope of improving on last year's 0-8 away record.
Because each team member has been training hard this summer, both physically and mentally, Springmeyer said she had confidence in all her teammates.
"Our depth is our greatest strength, definitely," Springmeyer said. "We have confidence in our subs when they come into the game."
The team's confidence does not stop at its substitutes for the forwards, midfielders and fullbacks, though — the team also has "really great depth" when it comes to goalkeepers, according to Harrington. Lauren Kessler '11.5, Alexis Aurigemma '13 and Caroline Johansen '14 all have a shot at playing this season, she said.
"It'll be practice by practice, game by game" when determining which goalkeeper to play, Harrington said. "They've been encouraging each other every practice."
She said members of the Class of 2014 will have the opportunity to play.
"I suspect you will see several in and out of the starting lineup, with all of them gaining playing time throughout the season," Harrington said. She mentioned forward Torie Stearns '14 and midfielder Avery Burns '14 in particular, saying Stearns is "fast and feisty" and Burns has "a very good presence in the middle of the field."
The upperclassmen have strong returners, led by captains Katie Hyland '11, Cassie Puhalla '11 and Tacy Zysk '11. Hyland was on the field this summer as she trained with the USA Field Hockey High Performance Team, a training center that selects athletes for the national and regional teams.
"She's the girl with every shot, every pass, and she just plays with a lot of heart," Harrington said of Hyland. All three captains have been "focused on being prepared, scraping it out, getting after it and winning."
The team still has improvements to make, according to Springmeyer and Harrington.
"Transitioning and more urgency" are what the team needs to improve on the most this year, Springmeyer said. "We're hoping to get more of those 50-50 balls. We want to surprise our opponents this year and come out strong."
Harrington said that the team needs to focus "hard on scoring" so that they can "put lots of goals on the board."
The first game of the season is Saturday in Iowa against Miami (Ohio). The first few games will be challenging and will prepare the team for their conference games, according to Harrington. The first conference game is at home Sept. 18 against Columbia.
"We want those Ivy wins, we want an over-.500 season," Springmeyer said. "I think we'll be a lot better this season."