Junior class helps lead field hockey to Final Four

Posted by Katie Peverada

When I first arrived to interview the junior class of the field hockey team, it was utter chaos. With their flight to the Final Four less than 12 hours away, they had something far more important to take care of: helping each other pick out their outfits for the banquet they would be attending while in Virginia Beach.
When it seemed that it would never come to an end and they would miss their flight, Sam Revera spoke up and said, "Guys, the plane can't leave without us."
Revera may have been joking, but she was right.
Meet the junior class of the Skidmore College field hockey team. All eight of them. Together, they have scored 56 goals and 128 points. In net, they have combined to play 98.9% of a possible 4,340 minutes over the past three seasons. Since they've set foot on campus, they've won two Liberty League Championships and qualified for the NCAA tournament every year. Their record since they've been at Skidmore is 51-11.
But one of those losses came in last year's Liberty League semi-final, a feeling they weren't used to.
"As freshman, we just walked into a Liberty League championship. We didn't really realize how big of a deal it was until we didn't have it" co-captain Pauline Searles said.
Revera added that this year, they had the mentality of "It's going to happen. It's not getting taken from us again."
And it wasn't, as they beat William Smith 4-3 for the League title. But they made it very clear that they aren't done, and by Sunday afternoon they intend to be 53-11 and National Champions.
"We pretty much always have that as our goal," Revera said about winning a National Championship. At the beginning of each year the team comes up with new individual and team goals, but the goal of a championship is always there.
Collectively, they have all taken on a larger role both on and off the field, and they continue to push each other in all aspects of the game.
"Freshman year we didn't earn it. We weren't really playing as much, but this year it feels like we all played our part," Mel Webb acknowledged.
The girls felt that lately the team has been playing some of its best field hockey of the season. In the first two games of the NCAA tournament, they throttled Keene State 11-1 and then edged the number three-seed in the tournament, Middlebury College, 4-3.
"There's definitely a new energy. We're playing to earn everything," Amy Beck, a goalie on the team, said.
Despite the obvious importance and impact of the junior class in this year's success, they were quick to shower their coaches and teammates with praise. The coaching staff, is headed by coach Beth Hallenbeck, who is assistated by Lauren Winchell and volunteer Wes Chella. Winchell and Chella provide insight and a calming presence, with Winchell working closely with the goalies. The players lauded the individual attention that the coaches are willing to give them.
"With Beth, she's trying to push you, but Lauren can cheer for you while Beth is pushing you" Beck said.
Chella takes on the role of a spinner. He is able to take every situation and make it a learning experience.
"Wes always has this in-depth analysis of every situation," Sam Skott said.
The junior class was just as effusive about their fellow teammates as they were about their coaches, particularly the senior class. Co-captain and defenseman Annie Weis, the player they all view as the backbone of the team, leads the defense. Meanwhile, Skidmore's all-time leading scorer Kelly Blackhurst leads the offense and the mindset.
"Knowing how much she [Blackhurst] wants it makes," Beck started, "...Me want it" Webb finished.
The way that Webb jumped in and finished Beck's sentence is telling of how powerful and instrumental the junior class is to the team heading into the weekend.
The team is made up of 21 individuals, but all of them contribute to the process, with eight of them coming from one class. It's not that dissimilar from their process of choosing each other's outfits
But as individual as their outfits for the banquet ended up being, the team was just as excited to be wearing matching travel suits on the plane.
"We're going to look so cool on that airplane in matching clothes. I love when we're matching," Beck said.
"When everybody is on the same page, we just all work wonders," Searles said.

The Thoroughbreds take on Salisbury University in the NCAA Division III semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. You can watch live here: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2013/11/22

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