The field hockey team (2-0-0) defeated the Merrimack College Warriors (0-0-4) by a score of 2-1 to cap off their opening weekend homestand. The Bears dominated offensively the entire game, outshooting the Warriors 23-2 and putting 18 of those shots on goal, but Merrimack’s stout defensive approach kept the game close.
Brown had a slow start after the Warriors capitalized on a quick tip in off a cross in front of the net in the 18th minute of the game. But this would be the last shot that goalkeeper Jodi Brine ’23 and the Bears would allow for the rest of the game.
Bruno built up momentum in the second half with a dominant midfield presence from captain Dani Van Rootselaar ’22 as she continued to push through the Warrior defense with a game high 11 shots on net.
Brown unleashed eight shots in the third quarter and finally broke through with an equalizer in the 39th minute off a corner attempt. Midfielder Lindsey Ross ’23 placed a ball to Mikayla Walsh ’25 who touched a pass to Rothkopf ’25, shooting from the top of the circle to tie the game at 1-1. Rothkopf said that all the shots, including her own goal, can be attributed to the change in pace that the Bears brought onto the field in the second half. “This was an important win, we showed how tough we were coming from behind,” Rothkopf said. “We played fast and took chances after our first half frustrations.” The Bears racked up five more shots in the final three minutes of the period, continuing to keep their foot on the gas.
Bruno came out in the 53rd minute of the game with Walsh making her presence known once again as she assisted a ball towards the front of the goal where midfielder Emma Rosen ’22 knocked it past the goaltender. This gave the Bears a 2-1 lead that the Warriors could not budge for the remainder of the game.
The team dynamic is different this year coming off the absence of a season, Rootselaar said, as the majority of the team is still feeling out the collegiate experience. “I think the success of this year more than any of the years prior is really dependent on leading by example,” Rootselaar said. “Half of the team is inexperienced and unaware of what it’s like to play a game. The more we play like this, the better our team chemistry will continue to be.”
Head Coach Jill Reeves said the mixed experience of the team allows more room for in-game improvements, which is what led to the second half momentum switch. “We are a passing team,” Reeves said. “The second half everything clicked and the fluidity of our game was seen in the finished passes and capitalizing off our looks that weren’t there in the first half. We were rushing our looks in the beginning which was an easy correction to make, helping us see a difference in energy.”
Brown’s undefeated start to the 2021 season has generated excitement amongst the field hockey players, including midfielder Ana Claire Piacentini ’23. “Our team culture is so positive right now, and I know that’s cliche,” Piacentini said. “We wanted it so much more in the second half, but the crowd really does make an impact. This was our opening weekend and Brown Athletics as well as the surrounding Brown community coming out to support us is really all we could ask for.”
The Bears will return to action Friday, Sept. 10 with a home matchup against cross-state rival Bryant University. Faceoff is at 4 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.