Sixth Man: Field Hockey

Meghan O’Donnell ’15

You may not have known this, but we at Brown actually have some varsity sports teams. A whole bunch of varsity sports teams, as it happens. And, as an innocent, misguided freshman, I will attempt to attend one game played by each of these 37 varsity teams. There will be drama, there will be action, there will be crushing boredom excitement. Welcome to Sixth Man.

So, what sport should we visit first? Field hockey, naturally. Saturday morning, I headed half-asleep to the field hockey field (note–it’s no longer located on the roof of the OMAC, major letdown) for Brown’s clash with Harvard in weather that was roughly 20 degrees colder than what I was prepared for. I arrived to find the game already underway and the stands fairly full of parents rabid fans. An additional positive–the seats were only 75% filled with water from Friday night’s monsoon.

As it turns out, field hockey is a bit like the great American sport of soccer. There is a lot of passing around the middle of the field, periodic scoring opportunities that almost never turn into goals, and a lot of the ball going out of bounds. In fact, in the first half, Brown’s strategy appeared to be to pass the ball out of bounds as much as possible, which was a slightly better strategy than Harvard’s, which was to pass the ball to Brown as much as possible. To my highly trained eye, we appeared to be winning at halftime, as evidenced by the fact that our zero goals were way more stylish than their zero goals, and also because screw Harvard.

Our goalie, Shannon McSweeney ’15 (thank you, brownbears.com, for the stats/information help), pitched a shutout for most of the game, as Brown for the most part was the team threatening to score. Led by forwards/attackers/scorer position-players Alexis Miller ’16 and Clayton Christus ’15 (thanks again, brownbears.com), Brown took more shots and got more penalty corners—the exciting part of the game when the offense gets to all stand around the goal and fail to score in a much more drama-filled fashion than usual—than Harvard. In an unfortunate twist of fate, though, with only five minutes left (the game has two 35-minute halves) the ball got kind of poked around in front of the Brown goal and Harvard’s Emma Keller knocked it in to give the Crimson Douchebags a 1-0 lead. (The reason I can’t give a more specific account of the goal is definitely not that I was sending a text when it happened.)

Rather than be left for dead, though, Bruno battled back, and in what has to be one of the Top Five Most Exciting Field Hockey Situations Ever, was able to get a penalty corner as time expired, giving them one last chance to even the score. The first try went off the post, a heartbreakingly close attempt, setting up a second penalty corner. Apparently the refs were getting bored, though, because they called some type of bullshit foul on Brown and ended the game. We were robbed.

Verdict on field hockey: first of all, I’m really nervous that all the players are going to wind up with a dastardly case of scoliosis later in life, because the sticks are too short and everyone has to hunch over to hit the ball. Second of all, there are a LOT of family members in the crowd who are really invested in the game. So be prepared to act like you, too, know what is going on when you are watching the action—which you should try to do at some point. I can’t wholeheartedly endorse going to an entire game from beginning to end, but I would completely support planning to show up around an hour after the scheduled start time and catching the last 20 minutes. You can see Brown field hockey in action October 16 at 4:00 p.m. against Providence, October 20 at 12:00 p.m. against Cornell, October 21 at 12 p.m. against Rutgers, and/or November 3 at 1:00 p.m. against Yale.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Sixth Man (probably equestrian, men’s tennis, or swimming), and think about catching Bruno in upcoming action in volleyball at 7 p.m. Wednesday against URI or in men’s tennis Friday/Saturday for the Brown Invitational. Go Bears, right guys? Right?

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