After a season that ended with a Patriot League title, Lehigh women’s field hockey has started strong with their 2023 campaign.
The team played their first game on Aug. 25 against Ohio State, and though they put up a fight, the Mountain Hawks fell 5-2.
Since their season opener, the Mountain Hawks have defeated Ball State, Lock Haven, Hofstra, Sacred Heart and Saint Francis, falling only to Temple, making their record 5-2.
“Obviously, we didn’t win (the first one), but we had a great game,” sophomore defender Kiki Mes said about the first game. “We implemented a lot of stuff we did during preseason and practices. So even though we lost, I think that game already was a great start of the season.”
Sophomore forward Maddie Kandra said since they lost 4-0 to Ohio State last season, this season’s 5-2 loss was a great result for the team. She said the team is optimistic after going up against a challenging team and matching their playing style.
The early loss to Ohio State served as motivation for the Mountain Hawks, who have won five games since.
Kandra said the team’s mentality and confidence has changed since winning the Patriot League last season.
“Knowing that we can win a Patriot League Championship is a huge contributing factor in our mindset this season,” Kandra said. “We played a lot of these teams last year and now we know we are capable of beating them.”
Mes credits their recent successes to the fact that the team has been very specific with its strategy for each game.
“Each week, we come in knowing what we were going to work on (and) how they’re playing,” Mes said.
Kandra said the team is trying to score more goals by transitioning through the midfield, rather than scoring on penalty corners, as they have done frequently in the last few games.
This season, the team has an entirely new coaching staff, with head coach Kelsi Lykens joining in April.
Junior goalkeeper Jenny Canoni said the new coaching staff has been more detail-oriented compared to last season.
“We might only do three drills and we’ll run them each for half an hour until they’re perfect,” Canoni said.
In addition to a new coaching staff, Canoni said the team graduated seven seniors last year, most of whom were in the starting lineup.
To replace the seniors, the team brought on seven first-year students, as well as a sophomore transfer from University of Vermont, KK Sauve.
“Having new skill on our team and new starters impacts how our team is this year compared to last year,” Kandra said.
Canoni said the team has worked very hard to create a strong culture, which makes it easy to integrate new players into the team.
She also said one of the team’s biggest priorities this season is improving their strength and extending it to last the full season.
“We want to establish what Lehigh field hockey looks like,” Canoni said. “We, as a team, also get to prove that the program is something substantial and that it’s not just based on who’s there at the time. I think that’s really important.”
She said she wants to build a program that will leave a legacy rather than a one-time championship.
With Patriot League play beginning next week, Canoni said the team continues to practice and train to work toward the championship again.
“I hope we can continue our win streak, and I think we definitely can do that if we keep remembering, too, that we can’t take winning for granted,” Mes said.
Kandra said she is most looking forward to the games against Boston University and American University because she thinks they’re good competition.
The team opens Patriot League play against Boston University on Sept. 22, followed by a trip to Hamilton, New York, to face Colgate on Sept. 30.
“I’m just looking forward to the team growing together, and becoming better and hopefully doing great once we start Patriot League play,” Mes said.