In game two of the young field hockey season, Skidmore College got a little less offense than it did in its Friday opener. Not to worry - the Thoroughbred defense was still equal to the task.
Scoring three goals in the first half and supported by a solid defense for the game, Skidmore recorded a 4-0 decision over the Babson College Beavers Sunday at Thoroughbred Field.
"This was a lot better effort - I was a lot happier with it," Skidmore coach Beth Hallenbach said. "I thought we played better team defense today and put a lot of pressure on them. I thought our passing was still good and liked that we had a shutout.
"We're kind of spoiled at Skidmore, but field hockey is usually a low scoring game. Usually two goals will win you a game, so I'm perfectly happy with four."
Skidmore got the only goal it would need on the day, when Kelly Blackhurst scored at the 23:23 mark of the first half on an assist from Ceilidh MacNeill. Molly Gile had an unassisted goal, her first of the season, at 5:09 and Anna Wahl assisted on Blackhurst's second goal of the day for the 3-0 Thoroughbred lead at the break.
The only scoring of the second half came just over 10 minutes into the period when MacNeill scored an unassisted goal.
Unable to break into the scoring column against the Thoroughbreds, Babson (1-1) used its own defense to stay within striking distance most of the day. Following Skidmore's opening score, Beaver goal keeper Kayla Florence made two consecutive saves on shots from point blank range to keep it a one-goal game.
"I think we definitely played a better first half than a second half," Babson coach Julie Ryan said. "We moved the ball pretty well in the first half and got some good looks. Playing against the No. 8 team, you know it's going to be tough competition."
Before being relieved in goal late in the second half by Amy Beck, Haley McDougall recorded one save for the Thoroughbreds. Beck did not face a shot. Florence had eight saves for Babson. Skidmore finished the day outshooting the Beavers 23-8.
"I think our forwards really struggled today," Ryan said. "We didn't take advantage of opportunities we had in the first half and I don't think we got the opportunities in the second half."
Skidmore will take its 2-0 record to Saturday's 2 p.m. game against New Paltz. Collecting a goal and assist Sunday, MacNeill thinks a better effort Sunday could pay dividends down the road.
"We feel pretty good about it," she said of the start. "It's a good foundation and we're just looking to build from there and keep going strong.
"I think in the first game everyone is kind of excited and nervous. Today we had a lot of great passing, everyone was involved, everyone was playing great defense and we all felt good about it after the game."
Don Willman is Sports Editor for Saratoga Wire
ON THE WIRE