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Field hockey secures winning record

O’Donnell ’15 breaks goals record, ensures best team finish in four years with win over Holy Cross

In Worcester, Massachusetts — 42 miles west of Winchester, where Meghan O’Donnell ’15 grew up, first handled a field hockey stick and first experienced the thrill of the ball hitting the net — she scored a goal Wednesday that accomplished what she had been inching toward her entire collegiate career: guaranteeing the women’s field hockey team a winning record.

Becoming Brown’s all-time career leader in goals wasn’t bad, either.

“After the goal went in, I realized that it was the record goal and was really happy,” O’Donnell said. “I was hoping I would be able to do it this season, and it’s nice to have done it with four games left.”

But for the senior who has experienced three straight losing seasons, O’Donnell put a lot more emphasis on the team around her, as she has done her entire time at Brown.

The goal “means a lot to me,” O’Donnell said. “What’s even better is that the team has officially clinched a winning record for the season, and we do not plan to stop winning. It’s huge for our team to meet this milestone, and it’s all just very exciting.”

O’Donnell’s record-breaking goal was enough to power the visiting Bears (9-4, 1-3 Ivy) over College of the Holy Cross (3-14, 0-5 Patriot) on a Wednesday night dominated by rain and wind. After a half in which both teams adjusted to the slick surface, O’Donnell latched onto a ball from Hannah Rogers ’16 and, like she has done many times this year, managed to put it past the outstretched stick of the goalie. The goal also tied her with Leslie Springmeyer ’12 and Tara Mounsey ’00 for most career points at 87, a record she could break in her next four games.

“Meghan is an extremely capable athlete,” said goalkeeper Shannon McSweeney ’15. “Her speed, strength and risks are what make her successful as a field hockey player; defenders don’t know how to play her because they can’t keep up with her. When the other team’s defense has the ball, she takes risks, and it often pays off.”

Holy Cross was not put down by the goal. In fact, they had three penalty corners to Brown’s one in the second half, but could not get anything by McSweeney, who had four saves on the night. Back Katarina Angus ’17 was able to contain a fast Holy Cross team that seemed to take to the slick surface. Combined with Ashley Waldron ’18, former Herald contributing writer Haley Alvarez ’15 and Anna Masini ’16, Angus — despite the movement of Clayton Christus ’15 up to midfield — led Brown to its third shutout of the year.

Up next for Brown is Cornell (8-4, 3-1 Ivy), a team that has enjoyed similar success to the Bears this year, with one major difference: Ivy League performance. Three of Bruno’s four losses this year have been to Ivy League opponents, but Cornell has won three of its four tilts with conference foes. But a closer analysis reveals that a comparison between the two teams’ Ivy performances may not be applicable.

Two of Cornell’s Ivy wins came against Penn and Yale, who are second-to-last and last in the conference, respectively, while Brown has played four out of the top five teams — Cornell being the only exception. The common Ivy opponents tell even less of a conclusive story: Cornell beat Columbia 2-1, who thrashed the Bears 4-0 but lost to Harvard 2-1, whom the Bears topped 4-3 earlier in the year.

Cornell’s offense is powered by leading scorer Marisa Sierglej, who has tallied 11 goals this season, and is helped by Ann DiPastina and Taylor Standiford, who are among the Ivy leaders in assists. The problem for Cornell has been its goalkeeper, as Elizabeth Schaeffler and Kelly Johnson have split the duties in different games this year. Cornell comes into the game against Brown on a three-game losing streak in which Johnson replaced Schaeffler as the starter in its last game, against Harvard.

Despite Brown’s lackluster Ivy League play, it comes into the game having won three of its last four — the lone loss was to Princeton — and having just clinched its first winning record since 2006. In all the seasons that this year’s seniors have been at Brown, no team has succeeded as much as this year’s, and they don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“This season has been such an incredible season,” O’Donnell said. “We came out hard and have kept it up all season. Having a winning record with four games left is amazing, and we continue to keep putting the ball in the back of the cage and continue winning. Our program has come a long way, and it’s so great to see all of the hard work we and the classes before us have put in finally pay off.”

So, just 48 miles south of her hometown of Winchester, at Goldberger Family Field, O’Donnell and the Bears will look to continue their winning ways Saturday, when Cornell comes to town.


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