Junior forward Gabby Tofig battles an opponent for the ball. Tofig was recently named preseason All-Patriot League, and the Mountain Hawks ranked sixth in the league in the preseason rankings. (Courtesy Lehigh Athletics)

Lehigh field hockey sets statistical goals for 2015 season

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The Lehigh field hockey team has been thinking about the number 25,398,222 a lot lately.

When the players arrived back to campus to begin preseason, coaches presented them with this number, each of the digits representing elements of last season’s performance that this year’s team could improve upon.

After a second-to-last-place finish in Patriot League play last season, the field hockey team knew it wanted to come out stronger and accomplish more as a team on and off the field this fall, with an appearance in the Patriot League Tournament being the ultimate goal.

“We are really focused on trying to make the Patriot League tournament because we haven’t made it the past few years,” said Zeoy Pacheco, senior midfielder and captain. “Also, we want to win more than half of our games this season, which would be an improvement from last year.”

Starting with the number 25, the team will strive to score more goals than the 25 that were scored collectively last season. The 3 signifies the goal to attain three shutouts, followed by beating the 98 corners earned and 220 shots generated last year. Lastly, the team hopes to place two players on First-Team All-League to account for the final 2 in the numerical sequence.

“In order to achieve this, the girls need to continue to compete, believe and challenge one another at practice,” coach Stacey Eversley said. “These girls are amazing and if they put their mind to something they will accomplish it.”

So far this season, Lehigh (1-2) has a victory over Davidson College and losses to Rider University and Monmouth University. The team still has two more games before beginning league play.

Although the loss to Monmouth was a tough one, it was well fought, and the Mountain Hawks believe they will be ready when league play comes around.

“One of the things we do well is we don’t give up and are willing to fight when we are down, and we are always thinking of ways to improve,” freshman midfielder/defense Lauren Dice said, who scored the team’s first goal of the season against Davidson.

According to Eversley, all team members have the opportunity to make an impact together and they will continue to stay focused on accomplishing goals as a team throughout the season.

“Our current team is very fast,” Eversley said. “They can score, the defense is solid, and they all have the desire to win. They bring great work ethic, competition and mental toughness to practice that helps us be very productive in practice.”

Despite two losses, the team has already scored six goals and experienced higher shooting percentages than it had in previous seasons.

“I feel like we are playing really well together as a whole unit and our passing patterns have been really good,” freshman midfielder/forward Isabel McKeown said. “I’m really excited for the rest of the season.”

The Mountain Hawks are led by senior captains Erin Richer and Pacheco, as well as junior captain Kassidy Green. Each captain has a different personality and strategy for leading the team, so they are able to provide effective leadership in all aspects of play.

“I try to lead by example on and off the field and pump the team up in tough situations during games,” Green said.

With Patriot League play quickly approaching, there are some aspects of the game the team hopes to improve upon before facing American University at home on Sept. 19.

“We need to come out and play the full 70 minutes and really capitalize on all of our opportunities in future games,” Pacheco said. “We can also improve on our shooting quickness.”

The field hockey team plays next Sept. 11 at Columbia University and Sept. 13 at Towson University before beginning league play at Ulrich Sports Complex against American.

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