By Russell Cloon
After losing three of the first four games of the season, the Bentley Field Hockey team is catching fire at just the right time.
“It feels great,” junior Rebecca Moore said. “We started off with a losing record and have moved on to a winning record that we plan to continue improving. Every game we are getting better.”
Moore is a captain alongside fellow junior Kelsey Howard and senior Gina Lirange, a seasoned veteran for the Falcons.
“I think our captains have been doing a great job leading the team,” head coach Jessica Spencer said. “Each player has improved since we arrived. Everyone has contributed to our success.”
The Falcons (5-3) have defeated Southern New Hampshire, St. Michael’s, Assumption and Mercy en route to their four-game winning streak. All victories have been at home for the Falcons, who hold a 5-1 record at home this season, with the only home loss coming against Stonehill, ranked fourth in the NFHCA Coaches poll.
“The four-game win streak has been exciting,” Lirange said. “They were all home games, so that was great to have our friends and family here so see a string of wins.”
Lirange, who serves as a second-year captain for the Falcons, is the only senior on the team.
“The interesting part about my experience on the Bentley Field Hockey team is that I have been the only one in my grade since I came in as a freshman,” Lirange said, “so now I am the lone senior on the team.”
Lirange says the experience has prepared her well since she took the reign as a captain last season.
“Being a captain last year prepared me for the senior captain role and I learned so much from the seniors last year. My co-captains this year have been great partners so far this season. Even aside from the captains, the whole team is full of natural leaders who consistently add value and step up during games and practices.”
Spencer says that Lirange provides a special kind of leadership to the team.
“Gina leads by example on and off the field. She works very had throughout the year on her game and holds the team to a high standard. She has been an impact player for us since she arrive as a freshman and she can be a game changer with her speed and skill.”
Lirange has played all eight games for the Falcons and leads the team in shots (38), offensive points (15) and goals (6). The senior forward has become a crucial part of the team’s offense that has produced 25 goals or an average of over three goals per game.
“Being my senior year, my last ever season in a collegiate sport, this season is so important to me,” Lirange said. “I have pretty hefty goals and expectations that I truly believe this team is capable of achieving.”
So far this season, the Falcons have faced three top-ten opponents, West Chester, Stonehill and Merrimack who represent all three marks in the Falcons losing column.
However, the tough schedule has given the Falcons the chance to compare themselves to the best and has provided some of the best moments of the season.
“Our first goal of the season was by freshman Taylor Kane during the West Chester game,” Moore said. “Twelve minutes into the game, she got the ball at the top and whipped out an aerial shot that landed in the back of the net. We were all screaming. It was such a great moment for her and the rest of us.”
Howard said the tough road has made the Falcons stronger and has played a component in the Falcons’ present success.
“I think that we have really improved throughout the season. At the beginning of the season, we were definitely struggling with scoring as we lost two games four to nothing. However, we have changed things up since and I believe that it has made us stronger and you can definitely see the changes as we have done a lot more scoring since.”
Ball movement was part of the Falcons game that Howard said has especially improved.
“Recently, we have really improved our passing game as well as we are using each other up the field to move the ball faster to our opponent’s goal. This makes us a harder team to defend and definitely more of a offensive threat.”
The new improvements showed over the weekend as the Falcons defeated Assumption 3-2 and routed Mercy 5-0. Lirange scored for the Falcons against Assumption on Friday, along with juniors Sally James and Meghan Talerman.
“Assumption was a hard fought win,” Spencer said. “We lost focus for a few minutes in the game and it almost got away from us. However, we regained composure and finished the game.”
Against Mercy, the junior class, who provided all five goals for the Falcons, carried the Falcons. James, Talerman and Howard scored for the Falcons, along with Savannah Febesh and Leah Winer.
The Mavericks, however, frustrated the Falcons in the first-half and held the Falcons to only two goals. Bentley eventually broke through in the second-half and finished the game with 32 shots, 19 of which were on goal.
Mercy was not our best effort in the first-half,” Spencer said. “But we did find some energy in the second-half and finished the game on a high note.”
If the Falcons were in need of a test on how far they have come, they will receive it this weekend, when the Falcons battle in a rematch against Stonehill.
“We are expecting a strong game against Stonehill,” Howard said. “They are a great opponent and are definitely one of the games that you always look forward to because you know it is going to be a good one. I look forward to playing them again and I feel like we are playing them as a whole new team.”
The rematch begins at 12 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Bentley University Turf Field.