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Field hockey's O’Donnell ’15, McSweeney ’15 take aim at school record

Senior players look to make history in this weekend’s matchup against Princeton

The field hockey team made a little personal history this past weekend, beating Providence College 2-0 — the first time any of the players on this year’s team had beaten the Friars. But this weekend could be even more historic: Goalie Shannon McSweeney ’15 needs only two saves to become Brown’s career saves leader, forward Meghan O’Donnell ’15 needs only one more goal and three more points to become the Bears’ career leader in goals and points, respectively, and a win against Princeton would guarantee Bruno (8-3, 1-2 Ivy) its first winning record since 2006.

Having the best record possible “was one of the goals for the senior class,” O’Donnell said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing and are hoping to continue to do.”

Ivy powerhouse Princton (3-9, 2-1 Ivy) will be the unfortunate opponent on the other side of a determined Bears team looking to make so much history Saturday. The Tigers’ field hockey annals are rich with history: Princeton has won the Ivy League 22 times — Penn has the second most titles with eight — and has been Ivy League champion or co-champion 19 out of the last 20 years. Conversely, Bruno’s last Ivy championship was in 1999 when they shared that honor with the Tigers.

But outside the Ivy League, this has been a lopsided year for Princeton, as it welcomes Brown in the midst of a five-game losing streak — the second losing streak of four or more games this year. The Tigers’ schedule is markedly more difficult than Brown’s — Princeton has played and lost against eight nationally-ranked teams while the Bears have played zero — but Princeton has only won one game against a non-Ivy League opponent.

But despite the records, this matchup could go either way. Despite Brown coming into New Jersey 4-1 in its last five games while Princeton comes in colder than the Providence winter weather, the Tigers defeated Dartmouth, 4-1, to whom Brown lost to 6-1, and fell to Columbia 3-2, who dominated Bruno 4-0 earlier in the season.

“Momentum or not, it’s just important for us to remain the team we were on Monday against Providence through the rest of our season,” McSweeney said. “If we play every game the way we played on Monday we will have a successful season. That’s the goal, and I have confidence that we can achieve it.”

If the Bears were to beat Princeton, it would be the first time since their 1999 co-champion season that Brown came out on top in their annual match-up and only the 10th win across 37 total games between the two. Though it would seem unlikely for the Bears to end up taking the Ivy crown — no team has ever won the Ivy League with two division losses, which Bruno has already suffered against Columbia and Dartmouth — a win for Brown against Princeton would mean the Tigers have two Ivy losses and would put the two teams in the exact same position.

“It would be really incredible to beat Princeton this year,” O’Donnell said. “I think this year’s team is extremely capable, and we know what it feels like to work hard and beat a talented team.”

And with league leader Cornell coming to Goldberger Family Field in two weeks, a win for Brown could give it an opportunity to muddy the already obscure waters that are the Ivy field hockey standings this year.

After a scoreless weekend for O’Donnell, she — and McSweeney — will look to the matchup against Princeton as not only a way to make team history but create their own personal history. O’Donnell has gone three games without seeing her name on the scoresheet, which is unusual for the Bears’ only All-Ivy Second Teamer last year.

But O’Donnell has scored both of Brown’s two goals against Princeton in her four years as a Bear, so her chances are as good as ever to break the record against the Tigers. She could also take a step toward another record — most career points — needing three more to eclipse Tara Mounsey ’00.

“People talk to me about (breaking the records) all the time and I’ve tried to have the mentality that if it happens it happens,” O’Donnell said. “I just could not be happier that we have performed so well as a team with our record currently 8-3, which hasn’t happened in any of my previous seasons here.”

McSweeney, on the other hand, has a much easier task to break her record: In her three starts against the Tigers, the senior has averaged over 15 saves, so passing Sarah Lamont ’91 should be inevitable. Turning those saves into a winning performance will be much, much harder.

“Shannon undoubtedly is an extremely talented goalie,” O’Donnell said. “It is rare that you start and play every game since freshman year, so she has an unbelievable amount of experience which has helped us tremendously this season. She, in addition to our entire defensive unit, have kept us in a ton of games.”

“It’s not a focus for the weekend,” McSweeney said. “The focus right now is to have an effort like the one we had on Monday against Providence.”

So as Bruno takes on a program that has written and re-written all the Ivy League Field Hockey record books, it will try to write its own narrative in a new chapter Saturday in New Jersey.


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