Spring preparation pivotal for field hockey

Fall success traces back to spring games

Win or lose, AU field hockey’s slate of spring games are important to the development of the team and to the creation of a new team dynamic, as well as a time to have a bit of fun.

The field hockey team finished their fall season with another Patriot League Championship and a berth to the NCAA Tournament. Much of that success came from preparation the team had done the spring before. It is in the spring when the team works to get ready for the fall, some team members said.

“[Spring games] are important because we just lost the seniors, so we are a new team,” Christine Fingerhuth said. “Everyone gets to play, so everyone gets to develop, and that gets us ready for the season. We are getting new players, but we have already developed a new system.”

While the games are important for the whole team, spring games are more important to a few players. Fingerhuth, for instance, was a starter last season, so she is just trying to get acclimated to the new line up. Hannah Weitzman, on the other hand, has been the team’s back-up goalie for three years and is in position to be next year’s starter. A strong spring was important to her development.

“My technique is good, [but] you can be really good at drills and just fall apart in games,” Weitzman said. “Since I haven’t had too much game experience. This spring was important for me because I needed the hours, as well as the different opponents. I am confident for next season.”

The players are not the only ones who value the team’s spring season. AU’s coaching staff also finds that the time the team spends in the spring is important to the fall success. They said that there is a relation between a good spring season and a successful fall.

“[The spring has] a huge impact on the season. We spend the spring without our senior class so it gives the team time to mesh and develop new roles,” Associate Head Coach Sarah Thorn Krombolz said. “We spend a lot of time working on tactical things we want to develop for the fall.”

Even with all of the time spent on the team’s future, there is still time for a little bit of fun. This year’s spring schedule ended with a home tournament at Jacobs Field. The final game of the tournament featured a contest between the current team and AU alumni.

At 30-minutes long, it is not a full game. The Eagles enjoy the game and note that, while they play to win, it is a lot more fun than playing a regular opponent.

“You are talking the whole game,” Fingerhuth said. “When someone does something really funny you can just laugh with them because you know them. It is not like you are playing another team and you hate them.”

What is unique for the current AU team is that they get to see some of the girls that helped get the Eagles to where they are today. It was the first time AU has been able to host an event like the alumni game and it is a tradition that Krombolz said they hope to maintain. Weitzman found the event particularly fun.

“It was cool. A lot of these girls are from last season, so they are not too distant from me,” Weitzman said. “Some of these other girls I have never seen play before, or I saw them when I was looking [at AU] in my senior year of high school.”

Weitzman would go on to say that while the alumni game is fun, they still must treat it like a real game.

“We can’t just joke around with this game, we have to prove we are serious,” Weitzman said. “It is fun, but it is serious fun.”

For the record, the alumni and current roster tied 0-0. To break the tie the game went to a stroke off where the current Eagles beat the former Eagles.

Despite the players being invested in the whole spring schedule, Krombolz said winning the spring games, or the alumni game for that matter, was not important. Instead, it is the team’s development and improvement that is important. The goal of the coaches and team is to get better with every game, which in her eyes, they did.

You can reach this staff writer at atomlinson@theeagleonline.com.

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