The Worcester State Lancers field hockey team will face off against Williams College on Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. The matchup follows their 2-0 victory over Framingham State Nov. 5 that earned the Lancers the title of champions in MASCAC’s inaugural field hockey tournament.
“I’m so happy we won the MASCAC,” said Zoe Athanasopoulos, a senior who plays forward for the Lancers. “We worked so hard for it coming from pre-season to now, and this team has grown immensely.”
After a slow start to the 2023-24 season, the Lancers finished with a 13-6 overall record. “We started off 0-3 and it was a little difficult, but nothing stood in our way from that point on,” said head coach Sophia Monopoli. The team went 9-1 in conference play this season, and ended on a six-game win streak that culminated in their victory against Framingham State to claim the championship title.
The Lancers’ victory in the MASCAC finals secured their entry into the NCAA Division III tournament, and both the players and coaching staff are excited about competing in it. “I’ve never seen a team want this more,” said Natalya Morin, a forward for the Lancers in her junior year. “We worked so hard day in and day out to get where we are, and it’s just a great feeling overall.”
“Doing it with these people makes it so much more special,” said Maddie Parker, a defender in her first-year season with the team. “We put in one thousand percent every single practice, and the hard work just pays off and it’s amazing.”
The Lancers expect a competitive game against Williams College, who finished their season with an 11-7 record. “I’m expecting it to be a tough game,” said Maggie Nailor, a defender for the Lancers in her sophomore year. “But if we all buy in like we did on Sunday, then we’ll be good.”
The team feels confident in the momentum that they have heading into the first round of the NCAA tournament. “We’re excited to just keep rolling with the momentum we have and hope that takes us to the next level,” said Monopoli.
This season is Monopoli’s first as head coach, and she is proud of the work that the team put in to turn their slow start to the season into a championship year. “They wanted this since day one,” said Monopoli. “We didn’t start that great but it didn’t matter, because they turned it around with each other.”
She credits the team’s speed, skill, and overall togetherness as keys to their success this season. “Our strength is our speed as a team, and we’ve had to use that to our advantage a lot,” said Monopoli. “Our speed, our skill, of course, and then the love that they have for each other on this team is really something I’ve never seen before.”
Watch the livestream of Worcester State v. Williams on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. Top photo courtesy of Worcester State Athletics. Practice photos by Colin Joyal.
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