This fall, field hockey made program history by not only advancing to the semifinals in the NCAA Tournament, but also becoming the first Babson women’s program to advance to an NCAA Final Four.
Babson’s five seniors finished their careers with seven straight home wins, including a NEWMAC Tournament championship. The Beavers swept the league’s regular season and tournament crowns for the first time since 2010 before posting shutout wins in the NCAA Sweet 16 and quarterfinal rounds.
Compared to last season, the team played with much more confidence this year, says head coach Julie Ryan, who was named NEWMAC Coach of the Year. The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) also named her coach of the year for the New England East region. “The focus was never about other teams,” she says. “It was about us. We wanted to produce the best possible game we could while outworking our opponent.”
Team co-captain Kelsi McDougle ’17 says that beginning with the preseason, the team learned important lessons at various points throughout the fall, which helped the Beavers peak at the right time. “Every year’s been great in its own way,” she says, “but this year in particular we were all on the same page moving toward our goals, and that was a great strength for us. We focused on the team aspect over everything else, and that led to a lot of our success.”
Babson lost to eventual national champion Messiah College in the Final Four, but that did not diminish the overwhelming success of the season. The team’s historic fall included program records of 21 wins (overall record of 21-3), 15 shutouts, and a No. 7 national ranking. Lauren Drakeley ’19 and Ashley Tango ’19 were the lone sophomores selected to the NFHCA All-America first team, and they are the first sophomores in program history to earn All-America laurels. Tango also was named NFHCA New England East Player of the Year. Two-sport athletes and roommates, Drakeley and Tango also play lacrosse and softball, respectively, for the Beavers.
“Every player has a different four-year experience,” says coach Ryan. “These seniors had some pretty good ups and pretty tough downs. Winning the NEWMAC championship was rewarding. What they experienced with the Final Four—I was extremely happy for them. They gave so much to our program, and there was literally no better way to thank them than going along on that ride.”—Scott Dietz, associate director of athletics