Winless No More



Winless no more!

As history illustrates, wins have been hard to come by for the O'Connell field hockey program. And this year is no exception. Especially this year, where inconsistency has plagued the Knights game in and game out.

But Monday was different. For whatever reason, very, very different. O'Connell came to play. And play they did – dominating the action during various stretches throughout the game. Never has the team looked better! And against a formidable foe: St. Mary's Ryken. Yes, that St. Mary's Ryken of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

The end result: a 2-1 double-overtime, sudden-death victory over Ryken.

An amazing result and accomplishment for Coach Eighmey Zeeck's squad. Much of the game, their play was flawless. The DJO girls excelled! It was O'Connell's first-ever win over St. Mary's Ryken. That's right, first-ever win over Ryken.

And to do so, as they did, was awesome. Double OT, sudden death! Pretty amazing! And, as the score would suggest, extremely exciting.

Junior goalkeeper Skye Hartsoe played a large role in keeping Ryken at bay through the first 30 minutes with some terrific saves and directing the defense as the two teams battled to a scoreless deadlock in the first half.

Nine minutes into the second half, opportunity knocked and Ryken capitalized. It was disheartening, especially considering the DJO girls had controlled the action much of the half and, for that matter, most of the game. Past teams would have caved in at that point, feeling sorry for themselves or accepting defeat for what it was.... just another loss.

This year's O'Connell contingent did not. Something was different. A belief not evident in recent years past took hold. If anything, it almost seemed as if Ryken's tally energized Coach Zeeck's charges. Once again, the home-standing Knights were on the attack. At the 24-minute mark exactly, Aubrey Donohue (pictured above) knotted the score at 1-1 with a goal. Celebration erupted on the O'Connell sidelines, while concern surfaced on the Ryken bench.

Perhaps it was the words of Donohue following the Ryken goal: "Guys, let's not start playing bad just because they scored. We are better than them, and we are getting to the balls first. We got this! Let's keep up the intensity and communication."

"We got this!" Gotta love it! "We got this!"


Indeed, O'Connell was not going away! A rejuvenated DJO squad found new life, while Ryken increased the pressure. "Ole mo" had taken a turn, and a determined Ryken contingent turned up the intensity. But O'Connell was not going away! They had come to play on this day.

Regulation play concluded with the two teams battling to a 1-1 standoff.

A 10-minute, sudden-death overtime ensued. OT proved quite interesting, with each team fielding only six players and a goalie by WCAC rules (as opposed to ten players and a goalie). The horn sounded after ten minutes, and the score was still deadlocked at 1-all.

Coach Zeeck had decided to stack the field with her top offensive and defensive performers, all upperclassmen: Kirsten Knauf, Caroline Young (pictured above), Olivia Pope (pictured below), Camille Seldin, Laura Putnam and Donohue with Hartsoe in goal. And, in doing so, elected to change her team's strategy – becoming more offensive-minded. She instructed her defense to hold tough along the 50-yard-line, and if an offensive corner was called in the DJO girls' favor, everyone needed to be on the 16 in order to increase their scoring opportunities. She also employed a little psychological strategy, singling out Seldin – reminding the defender that she always wanted to score, so now was her opportunity. As fate would have it, Seldin delivered as her teammates and coaches mobbed her in celebration.


The perfect ending to an outstanding game.

And, on another note, just my perspective and observations as a fan along the sidelines taking in the action.

Looking back on Monday's victory, Skye Hartsoe was outstanding in goal throughout the entire game. It is as good as I have seen her play. Kirsten Knauf was steady and, as always, impressive in her play and decision-making. Notable also was Olivia Pope's aggression, attacking the goal at every opportune time.... ditto for the fight and scrappiness of Caroline Young in the midfield. And I may be saving the best for last here... #8, Aubrey Donohue, should now be on everyone's radar. She possesses amazing talent and an undeniable desire to win. "We got this!"

I am really liking what I witnessed on Monday. Some more outings like that, and O'Connell will be looked upon more favorably by the rest of the WCAC. Congratulations, ladies, this was a well-deserved triumph!

This is Tommy Orndorff, and that was The Week That Was.