The average cost of a movie ticket was $2.75 the last time the Oswego State Lakers field hockey team had a winning season. That same year, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union and Nintendo released their Nintendo Entertainment System to the North American markets.
Now, that same movie ticket costs an arm and a leg, while Nintendo has created a gaming console that can be taken on the go. The point is, a lot has changed since the Lakers, last winning season, but the team looks to erase that this season with a winning record.
Oswego State field hockey is an impressive 5-4, 2-1 in conference play, which is good for fourth in the SUNYAC, only behind SUNY Oneonta. Oct. 3, the Lakers lost their first game in nearly a month to No. 20 William Smith. Although they lost 5-1, head coach Heather Moore loved what the game was able to do for her team to prepare them for the next game against the College at Brockport.
“I think it was an opportunity to set the bar. We played really, really well against that team, despite what the score said,” Moore said. “And taking what we learned from that game and into the game at Brockport. In that game [against William Smith], we were disciplined, we set the pace of the game and rose to the challenge of the game. So, setting a new expectation was important.”
Setting the pace played a huge role in their victory over the 2-10 College at Brockport Golden Eagles. The Lakers recorded their first shutout of the season, winning the contest 1-0. Something even more impressive was Oswego State’s ability to limit the Golden Eagles shot output.
The Golden Eagles mustered up a mere seven shots on target. This allowed senior goaltender Sarita Charap to stay fresh and confident throughout the game, giving Charap her first shoutout in 16 games dating back to last season.
“It was a combination [of good defense and good ball control],” Moore said.” In the first half, we struggled a little bit defensively to get our bearings. But at halftime, we stepped it up, and that led to us getting more offensive opportunities.”
This low-scoring style of play is something we have not seen from Oswego State in quite some time. Up until this game, the average goals scored per game was six, but it is certainly sustainable over the course of the rest of the season. In the first three games, the Lakers were giving up four to five goals a game, but since then, the team has played extremely well. A big part of that is the familiarity they have established with their new head coach and her system. Since it is a new season, with a new head coach, the Lakers needed time to adjust. According to senior midfielder Monica Harvey, the team has done that.
“[It took time] getting in our groove,” Harvey said. “In the first few games, it was new coach, new things, so once we got out there and knew what we were doing [tactically], it went a lot smoother.”
With their groove found once again, the Lakers have been able to limit the opposition’s scoring chances. Most importantly, this solid defensive effort has propelled the offense to produce more shots and in turn, more high-quality chances. Coming down the stretch, the games will become a lot less high-scoring and more defensive, where teams will need to grind out wins.
This style favors Oswego State, as they already play a style that emphasizes ball possession because they only have four subs.
With just five games remaining in the season, the Lakers have set themselves up to not only finish above .500, but also make a run at the SUNYAC Championship come playoff time.
“It comes down to the little details with what we are doing individually and how that feeds into our unit as an entire team,” Moore said.
Looking at their schedule, the Lakers will have five contests to complete their goal of having their first winning season since the end of the Cold War.
Through those games, the Lakers have three pivotal conference matches remaining. Oswego State will play SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oneonta at Laker Turf Stadium, two teams who rank ahead of them in the conference standings. These games, as well as the Oct. 14 match up against SUNY Geneseo on the road, will be major factors in determing whether or not they will qualify conference playoffs beginning on Nov. 1.
Photo: Alex Shevchuk | The Oswegonian