By Philip Walsh | October 2, 2023
UAlbany defends a penalty corner. Goalkeeper Lara Behn (pictured middle) made two saves.
Photo Credit: Brent Warzocha/UAlbany Athletics
On Friday (9/29), the University at Albany field hockey team beat the University of Maine in a dominant performance. The win marks the first time that UAlbany has beaten Maine since Nov. 4, 2018.
UAlbany has won six of their last seven games, and are now 3-0 in conference, a feat that hasn’t happened since 2016.
“Maine is always such a tough opponent,” head coach Phil Sykes said. He gave his thoughts on the game and UAlbany’s history with Maine. “We have tight games every time, and I'm just glad to beat them. Getting that off our back was such a good thing.”
Junior Alison Smisdom, the team’s scoring leader this season, had consistent offensive success. She scored the initial goal in the first quarter at the 11:24 mark, assisted by Charlotte Triggs, and had an assist on Freshman Axelle Werbrouck’s second quarter goal at the 10:45 mark. Smisdom now has 12 goals on the year.
Smisdom has made it clear that she doesn’t let the distinction get to her. “Obviously it's really nice, but I think it reflects well on how the team is doing,” she said.
Triggs also scored, notching the team’s third point with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, UAlbany had a stark lead of 3-0. The Great Danes diffused Maine’s offense with ease, as most drives were stopped or ended in unsuccessful penalty corners. The late goal by the Black Bears in the fourth quarter with 5:05 left in the game was too little, too late. Overall, UAlbany outshot Maine 17-5, with a 12-4 lead in shots on goal.
Smisdom commented on the importance of their early success, saying, “I think we performed well in the first quarter, and it kept us going through the whole game.”
Smisdom acknowledged the current momentum that she and her team has, especially now that UAlbany is ranked 19th by ESPN.
“Anything can happen,” Smisdom said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time, focus on playing our game, and stick to our identity.”
Sykes shares this cautious optimism but laments the missed time with their defender, Julianne Zunic, who is out with an illness.
“She should be back next week, but we've missed her greatly,” he said. “Overall, it's been very positive so far.”
Despite playing on a cold and rainy day, Sykes knows that his team often prefers these conditions over the heat. “Well, the joke always is for our Europeans, this is like a normal summer day,” Sykes said. “We're a little rainy and cold, but no, this is fine. This is good hockey weather again.”
While she had an uneventful game, on Tuesday, Mara Kuskёs was announced as America East Rookie of the Week, a distinction that she has taken great joy in.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, and it's my first award, so I’m really proud of myself,” she said.
Kuskёs is very excited for UAlbany’s next matchups against UC Davis and Stanford for a unique reason; family.
“I want to do well,” Kuskёs said. “They’re going to watch me, and I want to perform and show them how life here is and how the team is and everything.”
Sykes gave insight into the benefits that come from only having home games the next two weeks.
“Travel is tough. hotels, restaurant food, you know, it can be exhausting,” he said. “To be home in the comforts of your own field and locker room and familiarity is great. And I think with our girls, they look forward to playing at home for our home fans and families.”
The Great Danes play UC Davis next Friday (10/6) at 2:00 p.m..