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Women's field hockey's O’Donnell ’15 takes aim at record

Bears host Lehigh, Providence in potentially historic weekend on Goldberger Family Field

After two emotional wins over the weekend and a lethargic loss midweek, the women’s field hockey team hopes to find its form against Lehigh University and crosstown foe Providence College this weekend.

One of these games could also make history: If Meghan O’Donnell ’15 scores her eighth goal of the season and her 39th career goal, she will pass Tara Mounsey ’00 for most goals scored in a Brown uniform.

“It would be really exciting to be able to score the record goal at all this season, but to be able to do it in front of my friends and family on our amazing home turf would be really special to me,” O’Donnell said.

“My dad, mom and brother have been my biggest fans since I started playing sports, and my friends have come to every game they possibly could. I’m extremely lucky to have such great fans and owe my success completely to my family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

“Meghan is a dream athlete to coach,” said Head Coach Jill Reeve. “She is athletic, passionate and the x-factor is her sense of humor. It’s been a pleasure working with her, and she’s truly developed over the past four years into a very dangerous opponent for other teams to take seriously.”

How unlikely is it for O’Donnell not to score this weekend? In the last three years, she has only gone without a goal in a three-game stretch three times ­­­— twice back in her sophomore year and once this year. Since she didn’t score in the team’s most recent game against Quinnipiac, it’s therefore unlikely she will make it out of the weekend without the record-breaking tally. If she does go three games without a goal for just the fourth time in three years, don’t worry: After her first season, this week’s Ivy Player of the Week has scored six total goals in the three games that have followed a three-game slump.

“I can’t wait for it to happen,” Reeve said. “I haven’t even talked about it with her because I don’t want it to be a distraction. The record will be broken by (O’Donnell) by just doing what she does best, and that’s run hard, create havoc and finish when the opportunity arises.”

Up first for O’Donnell and Bruno (6-3, 1-2 Ivy) are the Mountain Hawks (4-8, 1-2 Patriot), led by promising sophomore forward Gabby Tofig. Tofig has seven goals on the year, making her the Patriot League leader in goals and points. Junior Lindsey Schott has been Tofig’s main partner up top, notching four goals and three assists on the season.

“Lehigh is on a three-game winning streak,”Reeve said. “They have clearly grown in strength throughout the season. We have too. I believe this will be a terrific matchup.”

A very inexperienced team with only three seniors on the roster, the Mountain Hawks have been going down big to some quality opponents. No. 20 Cornell scored six against Lehigh, while Penn put up nine in an early season blowout.

“Lehigh will also be a tough opponent. They’ve had some similar games with the same opponents that we’ve played,” O’Donnell said. “We haven’t matched up against them since 2006, so it’s exciting to have them back on our schedule.”

One problem spot for Lehigh could be at goalkeeper, where sophomore Julia Ward has had her struggles throughout the year. In the Mountain Hawks’ last game, Ward was benched at halftime — after allowing three goals on only eight shots — in favor of first-year goalie Katie Morris, who has only seen time in four games this year.

On the other hand, Brown’s Monday opponent has been terrific thus far: The Friars (8-5, 0-1 Big East) have faced some formidable opposition — four of their five losses have been to nationally ranked opponents — but still sit third in what might be the most competitive field hockey conference in the country. Also, the Friars have dismantled two opponents that the Bears have lost to — Providence blew out Columbia 8-0, who beat Brown 4-0, and also defeated Quinnipiac 5-1, who topped the Bears 3-1.

Led by the trio of Megan Hamilton, Daniela Bernasconi and Steph Guglielmo — three of the top four scorers in the Big East — the Providence offense has been formidable, averaging 3.5 goals a game.

“PC is very strong this year,” Reeve said. “They have a lot of speed all over the field. It will be important for us to manage that speed appropriately while sticking with our style of play.”

But similar to Lehigh, the Friars have been susceptible to poor defense against good teams: In their six games against currently ranked opponents, Providence has scored and allowed an average of 2.7 goals a game — below their season averages in both categories. If Brown can match their play from earlier in the season, they should be able to keep a vulnerable Providence close.

Brown’s last win against the Friars was in 2010 — a 2-1 double overtime thriller. None of the players on this year’s team have beaten the team’s Ocean State foe.

“Providence is an extremely tough crosstown rival and (has) done well this year so far,” O’Donnell said. “We’re just going to have to step up and play our game together as a unit in order to be successful.”

All signs point to this weekend as a very important two-game stretch for the rest of the Bears’ season. Two losses will see Bruno go only one game above .500 for the first time this year since it was 1-0. But two wins will mean the Bears are five games above .500 with six games to play and have a great chance to have their first winning record since 2006.

“I just hope to come out of this weekend with two more wins on our schedule and to be proud of how we played,” O’Donnell said.


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