By Staff Writer Pat O’Shea
Picture this: if a hawk flies over Historic Walton Field before a Haverford women’s soccer game, it is considered a good omen. According to goalkeeper Katharine Prescott ’17, who was told by those who came before her, “it was good luck when the team saw a hawk flying over the field on game day or during a practice.” The belief in this superstition led to the ‘Haverhawks’ moniker that the team now embraces as their unofficial mascot. It seems as though the Haverhawks have seen a lot of hawks flying overhead this season as they are well positioned to make a serious run in the Centennial Conference playoffs after a brief two-year hiatus.
A large factor in this season’s success may actually stem from the team embracing their mascot. The offense has been performing much like a bird of prey, out shooting their opponents 257—good for fourth in the Conference— to 117 shots against, while scoring 24 goals in 16 games compared to allowing only seven goals. Their goals against average of 0.42 is also second in the conference, which is a good sign for the playoffs with the old adage: defense wins championships. Skyler Ellenberg ’18 believes that the massive gap in shot differential stems from simple origins: “We take a lot of shots and we have such a strong defense that we don’t concede a lot… [other teams] have a hard time generating goals from the attack because of the strength of our back line.”
One of the key contributors on the defensive side of the ball is Abby Letts ’17, who brings up perhaps the biggest reason for this year’s success: “We place a huge emphasis on ‘our family versus their team,’ because at the end of the day we are playing for each other. We see the amount of work, dedication, and sacrifice each teammate gives to this team, so every sprint we run, every hard tackle we make, we do it for the girl standing next to us.”
Prescott ’17 says that the team “goal” at the beginning of the season was “to make it to playoffs,” and with their victory at Washington College on Wednesday, they clinched that elusive playoff spot. Taylor Cross ’18 is confident that the Haverhawks will be playing past Saturday’s game because the “postseason is in our control, and that is an amazing feeling to have. We do not need certain teams to lose or big upsets to happen. We just need to play our game and continue to work hard in our last week of regular season.”
Part of the team’s strength this year is also their depth. Fourteen different players have scored a goal during the 2016 season, while 16 players in total have either recorded a goal or an assist. Cross ’18 says “the larger roster has been great for the team this year. It has allowed us to make more substitutions and have fresh legs on the field at all times. We can outrun teams and play at a high level for the full 90 minutes.” Of course, it always helps when the substitutes are a threat to score at any given moment. The focus on roster depth by Coach Jamie Schneck also bodes well for beyond this season as eight of the top ten leaders in points will return next year.
While depth has been a game-changer for the team, it certainly helps having a goalkeeper like Prescott ’17. She ranks fifth in the conference in save percentage (.863), last in saves (44), and third in goals against average (0.43). One could argue that her save total could be higher if not for her stellar defense playing in front of her.
The team is coming off a big win over Washington College, and now they look to travel to face rival Swarthmore on Saturday at 7PM for their last game of the regular season. A win in this game or a Gettysburg loss or tie to Johns Hopkins on Saturday will clinch the #4 seed in the playoffs for Haverford, allowing them to host the first round game on November 2nd.
Photos by Photography Editor Wanyi Yang