Field Hockey Splits a Home Pair

Madeleine O'Meara

The field hockey team battled two conference rivals at home this week, taking on the Wittenberg University Tigers on Sunday and the Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops on Tuesday.

The Yeowomen played a thriller against Wittenberg, a back-and-forth affair that needed overtime to decide a winner. With only 17 seconds left in the extra session, sophomore midfielder Karin Yoshida scored her mind-boggling fourth goal of the contest, securing a nail-biting 4–3 victory that marked the first time Oberlin has topped the Tigers since 2007.

Junior goalkeeper Kiran Puri was again instrumental in the win, keeping the Tigers on their toes with her aggressive play in goal, a trait rare among field hockey goalies. Puri kept the Tigers off-balance, coming out off of her line anytime Wittenberg had an attacker who was uncovered. This assertive style heped the junior tally a season-high 16 saves for the game.

“Kiran’s become more commanding in the circle,” Head Coach Deb Ranieri said. “She likes to stop the opponent and shut them down before they even get a shot off.

“It’s a shock every single time to [the opponent],” Puri added. “They just don’t expect it. I really dig that.”

The offense, headed by Puri’s passes to midfielders from her goal, used short passes to break down the Tiger defense. Even though Yoshida scored all four goals, assists from first-year midfielder Claire Yeske and senior forward Emily Whitaker were crucial.

“We were really focused and we were playing off of each other, working as a team and just clicking,” sophomore defender Laura Li said.

The Tigers scored first, but just seconds later Yoshida would put in an equalizer. The teams continued to battle; the lead changed hands four times. After Yoshida’s third goal, Wittenberg managed to tie it up once more with just 10 minutes left to play.

In the overtime period, Puri saved six shots, and the team seemed to adopt her confidence. Oberlin finally cashed in on one of its numerous chances overtime, as Yoshida was set up beautifully for the last-minute score that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“The team played like they owned it,” said Ranieri.

The Yeowomen’s magic would not carry over against Ohio Wesleyan, however. Oberlin kept pace with OWU in the first half, with first-year Jodi Heisel responding to an early Bishops goal by moving the ball past several defenders and scoring in the 16th minute.

However, another goal made it past the Yeowomen defense before the half ended. OWU then scored two fast goals in the beginning of the second half, putting Oberlin behind 4–1. Whitaker took charge with an unassisted goal in the 63rd minute, but that was all the scoring for the day in a 4–2 defeat.

The key difference between the defeat of Wittenberg and the OWU contest seemed to be the Yeowomen’s state of mind.

“We weren’t motivated in the same way [that we had been against Wittenberg],” Li said. “We didn’t go into that game with the same intensity.”

“When we don’t play well, we all get in our heads and play alone,” Yoshida said.

Despite the loss to Ohio Wesleyan, the field hockey team displayed an intense enthusiasm to command the field. With Puri in goal and strong leaders in the midfield, the Yeowomen have the ability to climb up the conference standings. Oberlin next plays at home against Depauw at noon this Saturday.