NEWBERRY – “We over me.” It’s not just a team motto. It’s not even a motivational tactic. For head coach Anne Kietzman and her Newberry field hockey team, it’s become a way of life.
“We’ve been working really hard to change our focus to the team from the individual,” Kietzman said two days after a heart-stopping double-overtime victory over Queens. “We want to be a team defined by our gratitude.”
With all due respect to Kietzman, Newberry is likely most defined by those outside the program by its on-the-field success. The team, which played its inaugural season in 2013, is currently 4-5 with a 1-3 mark inside Eastern College Athletic Conference competition. Included in the win total is a three-game unbeaten streak, the first time in school history the team has won consecutive games.
Newberry has already equaled its program record for wins in a season and has its most wins over Division II competition in the team’s young history. And with roughly half of the season remaining, the Wolves are nowhere close to content.
“We’ve talked about trusting the process but never being satisfied,” said Kietzman. “The circumstances around the win over Queens Tuesday are an incredible indicator of the direction this program is going.”
Tuesday’s victory was nothing short of awe-inspiring. After two wins in New York over the weekend, which included an overtime victory and a one-goal conference win, the team bus returned to campus at approximately 7 a.m. Monday. Players attended class, some as early as 8 a.m., on little to no sleep, practiced in the evening, then attended a 90-minute players-only meeting.
The grueling schedule concluded with a 7 p.m. battle Tuesday at Setzler Field that saw Queens erase a 2-0 deficit in the final two minutes of the contest. The teams remained deadlocked through the first 15-minute overtime period and into the final three minutes of the second before Meghan Jolikko strode to the spot for a penalty stroke.
The freshman was up to the challenge.
Showing no ill effects of carrying the hopes and expectations of her coaches, teammates, and the 117 fans in attendance on her shoulders, Jolikko expertly rocketed her shot into the bottom left corner of the goal, just past the outstretched arm of the Royals’ goalkeeper, to set off a wild celebration on the sidelines and in the stands.
“It comes back to our theme of ‘we over me,’” Kietzman explained. “We had a first-year student look back to the bench and demand to take that shot in such a high-pressure spot. But it’s the team, especially the older players, that gave her the confidence to step up in that situation and know that, whether or not she delivered, they were going to be there for her. That’s the culture we’re trying so hard to build here.”
The team’s early-season success isn’t attributable to any single factor. Student-athletes have a better grasp of Kietzman’s system, which allows them to execute more detailed scouting reports. A sizable uptick in film study gives the team a better understanding of their opponents and a rapidly increasing hockey IQ. Increased commitment from each team member forces players to work harder in practice.
When asked to sum up the catalysts for Newberry’s steps forward through the first half of the season, Kietzman answered without hesitation. “Our trust in each other.”
Newberry will face Molloy (1-7) at Setzler Field on Saturday. The match is scheduled to begin at noon. The Wolves beat the Lions 1-0 earlier this season.
This release was provided by Newberry College.