Lehigh field hockey sophomore midfielder Zoe Day was awarded Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after scoring two goals and being a part of a defensive unit that held Lock Haven and Hofstra each to one goal.
Coming off of their first Patriot League Championship since the conference’s inaugural field hockey season in 1994, the Lehigh field hockey team will lean on Day as they attempt to replicate their recent success.
She started playing field hockey when she was in third grade on a team coached by her mom.
“I loved it ever since,” Day said. “It’s not just the sport I’ve loved but the people I’ve loved as well — everybody on my team were always my best friends.”
Day was a three-time varsity starter and a two-time captain at Severna Park High School in Maryland. She said her experiences there helped prepare her to play at Lehigh.
“Being a captain and being in a leadership role really helped me prepare and feel confident coming in, be able to use my voice and know my role as a (first-year student),” Day said.
She was also a multisport athlete in high school, as she played lacrosse during the spring season. She said playing a second sport helped her stay physically fit which has attributed to her sucess in field hockey.
Senior midfielder Julia Gatelein emphasized how Day played an important role for the team as a first-year student last year.
“(Day) was a really important part of our midfield, even though she was just a (first-year), she was still one of our key players, and she did a lot on the right sideline,” Gatelein said. “She had a great series against American and (Boston University) in the 2022 season.”
Senior captain Abbie Brown took notice of Day’s improvement in her game from last season to this season.
“Especially having a spring season to improve, going back to the defensive line I’ve seen her confidence skyrocket in the past year,” Brown said. “That was probably the biggest thing I’ve seen change.”
Gatelein said she admires Day’s ability to remain composed when she has to weave around defenders or when she is double-teamed.
She also noticed more confidence in Day, especially when she is on the ball.
Day said her mindset going into games reflects how she wants to perform on the field.
“I really try and lock in for the games and do a lot of visualization,” Day said. “I really visualize success in order to get in the right mindset to play and go confident into the game.”
Day also heavily prioritizes taking care of her body. She said she always makes sure her body is properly fueled and hydrated.
Both Gatelein and Brown said that Day’s style of play has led to her success.
“She is very, very skilled…she is very tricky and deceptive and can break some ankles,” Gatelein said. “She’s put under a lot of pressure in the backfield especially, and still finds a way to make her way out of it.”
Brown reiterated Gatelin’s assessment, mentioning Day’s disruptiveness with the ball on her stick and the ease and finesse she displays on the field. She said she feels more confident having Day on the back line with her during games.
Gatelein added Day is able to bring some lighthearted energy onto field. She does this through her celebration, which is a popular dance move called the dab.
“Zoe dabs a lot, and that’s her favorite thing,” Gatelein said.
But it’s not just her play on the field that makes her stand out. Brown said her personality off the field has made her a great locker room presence.
“(Day) is such a fun person to be around — I know she will always have my back if I need her. I really enjoyed getting closer to (Day) over the past year,” Brown said. “She’s always someone you want on your side. I’m always lucky and grateful to have her as a friend and a teammate.”