Field Hockey Prepares for Run in NCAA Tournament
Nov. 14, 2013
Written by senior Kristen Scott
The last time Boston College field hockey made the NCAA tournament was in 2009. This season, head coach Ainslee Lamb has done it again. This will be the first appearance in the tournament for every member on the team. However, making the NCAA tournament wasn't a certainty. Coming off a few straight losses, Lamb and the team thought their season was over.
"After our loss first round of ACCs, we thought it was over," senior captain Virgynia Muma said. "We did our whole end of the season talk. Then all of a sudden, [Coach Lamb] emailed us Friday morning saying we had a meeting."
Lamb called the meeting to tell the players they still had a chance to earn an at-large bid for the tournament. Taking a second look, Lamb realized that they actually did have the numbers to qualify.
"I wasn't really sure that it was going to happen until I saw our name on the board," said Lamb.
For the seniors, making the tournament in their final year for the first time was an exceptional feeling.
"I think it's a pretty special feeling," said Paige Norris, also a senior captain. "It's a really elite tournament because only 16 teams are chosen. It means a lot for us to be picked."
"We all recognize that we're really lucky to have this second chance to go. Everything happens for a reason. We want to prove that we are a good team and we can win; we can do well," Muma said.
The team has proved its skill time and time again during the 2013 season. With upsets of Connecticut and Syracuse under their belts, the Eagles have shown their voracity and the will to win.
"It's a really great attribute to have: To have the desire to win, to have the desire to compete. And this team definitely has that as one of its intangibles," Lamb said of the team.
"On this team, all 25 players really contribute. It's not a team where the star players are the focus on the team. All 25 of us are equally important to the outcome of what we've achieved," said Norris.
"Obviously skill has a lot to do with it, but I think our team chemistry is why we've gotten this far," said Muma.
Coach Lamb agrees that "25 strong" represents the integral importance of each girl to the achievements of the team.
"In this program, we really pride ourselves on the fact that everyone makes a difference. The reality is that there are different roles to be played in a team, and some roles are more high profile while some are less glamorous, but they all make a difference. To me, `25 Strong' is exactly that," said the coach.
It has taken effort from every person on the team to be successful in such a competitive conference. All seven teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference earned bids to the NCAA Tournament and six - including BC - ranked in the top 10 in RPI. Playing in the ACC has prepared the team for their run in the tournament.
"The last few games--because of our conference--were all top 10 games, all against teams that are in the tournament. And as hard as that was going through the process, it has certainly prepared us for this game on Saturday. The level of play that's required on Saturday, we've been playing for 10 weeks," Lamb said.
"I think we play really well against teams that are better or really close in skill level. We do better when we have an attitude. What do we have to lose? Let's get out there and try our hardest," said Muma.
"I think we're really excited to play against such a good opponent, so we get really up for the game. We already have a really good mindset," Norris said.
The Eagles will bring this competitive mindset to Syracuse, N.Y., this Saturday to take on familiar opponent UConn for the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 2 p.m. If they win, they will battle the winner of the Syracuse-Michigan State game on Sunday.