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Season Review: The Field Hockey Team’s Dominant Season

In+just+three+seasons%2C+the+Pace+Women%27s+Field+Hockey+team+has+become+one+of+the+best+teams+in+the+nation.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Pace+U+Athletics.+
In just three seasons, the Pace Women's Field Hockey team has become one of the best teams in the nation. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

In just three seasons, the Pace Women's Field Hockey team has become one of the best teams in the nation. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

In just three seasons, the Pace Women's Field Hockey team has become one of the best teams in the nation. Photo Courtesy of Pace U Athletics.

Kwadar Ray, Sports Editor

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To call the 2017 Women’s Field Hockey team special would be an understatement.

One can see the talent just by its rankings, as this team was the eighth ranked team in the nation and the best team Pace Athletics had to offer with a 15-4 record.

With the season being over, the team can now look back in retrospect on how impressive the year was and take its prosperity into next season.

“Honestly, I did not see it coming,” says Junior midfielder Paige Predmore. “It’s not that I didn’t have the confidence in us, but we are still really young and it’s only our third year as a program. I think we shocked a lot of people.”

Even when the season began, it was not until overtime games against No.9 Merrimack and No. 5 Saint Anselm when the Setters knew they were becoming a team to be reckon with.

“When we beat Merrimack, I think that’s when we really got to see the potential this team had,” second-year head coach Kayte Kinsley said. “When we played Saint Anselm, who were in the Final Four last year, we lost but took the game to overtime and I think when you start looking at that and putting it in perspective, we knew we had something special going on here.”

Coach Kinsley says the keys to the team’s success this season was veteran leadership and the players’ familiarity with one another.

“One of the things that made us successful is obviously we had a majority of this group for a couple of years now and we had a lot of time to teach them the tactical part of the game, the strategy and all that,” Coach Kinsley said. “A lot of the older girls take time out of their day to help teammates going over what we just learned in practice, so the leadership on our team helps the new players understand our system and know the individual role, and it helps with every part of the field when each player knows what they should be doing.”

When it became evident the team was going to have a great season, expectations enhanced. It was no longer about improving from their 9-9 record last season, which they did in only 11 games, the unspoken goal now became about making it to the postseason.

“[The players] really didn’t even talk about playoffs until we made it, so that’s a good thing,” Coach Kinsley said. “It wasn’t too much talk about the future, it was about taking it one game at a time.”

“We didn’t want to jinx it, so we didn’t even say anything about it until it happened and when it did, it felt great,” Predmore said.

In only its third season, the Field Hockey team went from unknown to the third ranked team in the in the NE-10 Tournament.

The Setters did not just make it to the postseason, but they were also nationally ranked for a majority of the year, finishing the regular season ranked eighth.

“For me personally, I don’t even follow [national rankings], but I saw it on Twitter and I was confused about what it even meant. Our group message was going crazy and it was just nice seeing something so unexpected,” says Predmore.

While the Setters continued to break records game in and game out, they remained modest. However, they still took some pride in their success and their role in putting Field Hockey on the map.

“I think that we wanted to stay humble and not let the success get to our head,” Predmore said. “But I take a lot of pride around campus, especially because not a lot of people know what Field Hockey even is but they heard we were doing so well. So, even if they’ve never seen a game or don’t know the number I am, if they just say congratulations, it’s really rewarding.”

The Setters played and hosted their first ever playoff game against Assumption College on Oct. 31, a team they played and beaten twice during the regular season. However, three times turned out to be the charm for Assumption, as they defeated the Setters in a 2-1 overtime thriller.

After the game winning goal was made by Assumption’s Allison Sheahan, multiple Pace players were overwhelmed with emotion and had to take a pause on the field as they came to the realization their storybook season was finished. It was now on the shoulders of Coach Kinsley to let the players know they had nothing to be ashamed of.

“It was a heartbreaker,” Coach Kinsley said. “At that point there’s not much you can say besides that you’re proud of them and the way they worked. I think one of the things I was really proud of was their chemistry and the way the mesh very well on the field and off it. They would do anything for each other and even though we lost that game, there’s still a lot more I think that’s important to highlight to them.”

The Setters are now heading into the off-season sooner than many players wanted. However, with a majority of the team returning, Kinsley says she sees no reason why next season’s team cannot bounce back from the playoff defeat and have another successful year.

“If anything, [the playoff loss] is going to motivate them and we have a lot girls returning that are our core leadership group and having that leadership return will just set a tone for the younger players and keep this program on the map,” Coach Kinsley said.

“It sets our goals a little bit higher which is a good thing,” Coach Kinsley said. “We reached our goal of a winning record, then reached our goal of making the playoffs, and it’s a steady incline of our goals because now our goal will be to win in the playoffs.”

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