Field hockey scores eight goals, sets record against Medaille

Debbie Nalesnik, 24 hit in two goals in Alleghenys 8-0 victory over Medaille on Tuesday, Oct. 5

Photo provided by Allegheny Athletics

Debbie Nalesnik, ’24 hit in two goals in Allegheny’s 8-0 victory over Medaille on Tuesday, Oct. 5

Allegheny’s field hockey team shutout the Medaille College Mavericks 8-0 in a nonconference matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

The Gators doubled their most amount of goals scored in a game during their two-year program history with the victory. Allegheny’s previous record of four goals came against Sewanee College on Sept. 4, 2021 and Ferrum College (VA) on Sept. 29, 2019. With the win, the Gators improved to 5-4 on the season.

Allegheny took advantage of Medaille in the first and third quarters of the game. The Gators put together five goals in the first fifteen minutes of the game, and added three more goals in the third quarter. 

Interim Head Coach Margaret Maclean explained what led to her team’s offensive onslaught.

“I think playing as a unit and really just utilizing what we worked on in practice the past couple of weeks and coming together and bringing it full circle,” Maclean said. “Finishing on cage helped a lot and that’s been our issue the last few weeks.”

Leading the charge for the Gators were Midfielder Maya Francisco, ’24, and Attack/Midfielder Debbie Nalesnik, ’24, who each recorded two goals. Additionally, Attack/Midfielder Ramsay Smith, ’23, drove in one through the net and registered three assists. Other scorers included Midfielder/Defender Emma Anderson, ’23, Attack/Midfielder Kelsey Anderson, ’23, and Attack/Midfielder Ella O’Connor, ’23. The latter aided the Gators with two assists.

Nalesnik, who had seven shots on goal in the matchup, discussed how her team’s positioning allowed her to find openings in the Mavericks’ net.

“I think what worked for me was definitely going around the goalie, having my teammates passing to me at the right spot,” Nailsnik said. “The corner was pretty cool because I just shot at the opposite side post, which I have been working on — it was pretty swag.”

Overall, Allegheny compiled 40 shots, 26 of which were on target. Meanwhile, Medaille was unable to put together a single shot throughout the contest.

Hallie Reiger, ’23, the first-string goalkeeper for the Gators, did play in the game against the Mavericks. However, Reiger spoke highly of goalies Heather Amancio, ’23, and Meredythe Baird, ’24. The two netminders split time on the pitch as Amancio held down the fort in the first half of the game, while Baird came in for the remaining 30 minutes.

“(Amancio) and (Baird) are great,” Reiger said. “They are both so good. It’s a constant battle and honestly, I am super proud of both of them.”

The defense in front of the goalie played a huge role versus Medaille. One of the main reasons Medaille could not put together a shot was because the Mavericks hardly stormed the Gators’ shooter’s circle. In the first quarter alone, Allegheny kept their opponent on the defensive as Medaille only crossed over a few feet past midfield before the Gators intercepted the ball.

Even when Medaille started to build a little momentum downfield, they were stopped by Allegheny. Unlike the Gators’ offense, which produced a swarm of attackers in an offensive drive, Medaille would only bring out one to two players to do the damage. More often than not, they were met by defenders Apurva Kannu, ’24, and Molly Miller, ’24 who successfully committed turnovers in Allegheny’s favor. Furthermore, if the Gators needed an opening and wanted to reset the offense, they passed back to Kannu and Miller.

Maclean elaborated on how her team displayed good ball movement to hold Medaille scoreless.

“I think just utilizing the passes,” Maclean said. “I like to say let the ball do the work. So them passing in the back, utilizing the transfer balls really helped us in our defense success.”

Maclean detailed how consistent backfield players such as Kannu have been integral to the team’s performance this season.

“Her just being steady in the back just and utilizing the passes with her fellow defenders, just letting the ball do the work, finding the gaps, and just getting the ball midfield really helped,” Maclean said.

Kannu is a second-year student-athlete for the Gators, but she is playing in her first collegiate season. Kannu described what it means to her that Allegheny’s field hockey team has been able to accumulate a winning record so far this season.

“I think the COVID-19 year was kind of a blessing in disguise and it allowed us to improve,” Kannu said. “(We) gained a lot of players and assets. We got to use that year to improve our skill all year long and it’s really getting great to compete now.”

I think the COVID-19 year was kind of a blessing in disguise and it allowed us to improve. (We) gained a lot of players and assets. We got to use that year to improve our skill all year long and it’s really getting great to compete now.”

— Apurva Kannu, Class of 2024

Allegheny’s field hockey team relies heavily on their underclassmen as they have no fourth-years playing for the team. Because of the program’s young history, the Gators have 10 third-years, nine second-years and two first-years. Reiger believes that the underclassmen has helped the team vastly improve from 2019, where Allegheny went 2-16 in their inaugural season.

“The sophomores and the two freshman are amazing,” Reiger said. “The sophomore class is so strong. We wouldn’t be where we are now without either of the classes. They are very good.”

The win over Medaille was a good bounceback victory for the Gators after a 2-0 loss to Kenyon on Saturday, Oct. 2. Maclean has faith that Tuesday’s performance will be helpful in weekend matches versus Earlham and Depauw.

“We still have some things to work on but we have three days of practice to prepare,” Maclean said. “I think if we come out strong like we did today, it’ll be a heck of a match.”

Allegheny will play both contests at home this weekend, starting out with Earlham on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 11 a.m. for senior day, followed by Depauw at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 10 on the Blue Turf at Robertson Athletic Complex.