Field hockey frustrated by early losses

It seems impossible to dissociate the words “disappointment” and “hockey” these days. In keeping with the times, the Queen’s women’s field hockey team opened their season with two disappointing losses in Nepean last weekend. But there’s more hope of the Gaels improving than the collective bargaining agreement situation in the NHL.

The women opened play on Saturday against the Guelph Gryphons. Given the Gaels’ moderate success the previous weekend in an exhibition tournament at Toronto—falling only 2-1 to the host Blues—the team was optimistic about opening the season with a win.

“We came away from that weekend confident that we have a strong team that can challenge for the top spot in the OUA this season,” head coach Tom Green said prior to the match against Guelph, which made that 2-0 loss all the more surprising.

“It wasn’t what we expected,” captain Michelle Fortner said. “We were disappointed.”

Later that day the Gaels had a chance to recover against perennial powerhouse U of T. However, the Gaels were never in the game, as the 5-0 final score attests. Green, in his second year as the team’s head coach, was not pleased with the conclusion to the team’s day.

“They’re a strong team,” Green said, “but that’s a pretty big score line.”

Nevertheless, Green remains hopeful the team can regroup.

“We have lots of skill; it’s just that we’re young,” he said.

The Gaels have lost four players from last year’s team—which had the best regular season record in Queen’s history, finishing third in league play—before falling to Western in the playoff semi-finals. Among those not returning are two captains and the team’s leading scorer. Only three players with more than a year’s worth of experience are left. However, the team remains confident the rookies will be fast learners.

“We just need time to gel,” Fortner explained. “The younger players will build up their confidence every time they step on the field,” she said.

Playing left defense last season, Fortner, ArtSci ’06, had her confidence boosted when she added an OUA First Team All Star distinction to an already distinguished trophy case that included a 2002 rookie of the year.

“We have the tools to get where we want, which is to win the league title,” Fortner said.

Green shares Fortner’s feelings about the depth and individual skill of the team.

“We have lots of skill,” he said. “It comes down to the fact that the rookies need to settle down, which comes with experience.”

New faces for the Gaels include goaltender Kaylee Milne, forwards Kirsten Jewell and Jess Chu, and defenders Hilary Piets and Rileigh Alger-MacColl.

The team travels to Waterloo this weekend for games against McGill and York, where they will look to reconcile their youthful enthusiasm with their equally abundant skill.

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