Field hockey’s Rachel Kennedy ’16 scored both goals in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Amherst. 
A three-year starter, Kennedy tied Katie Riley ’14 for the team lead with 21 goals last year, and scored 15 as a first year. Her early three goals this season have further cemented her reputation as a feared scoring threat at the center forward position. Both  Head Coach Nicky Pearson and captain Colleen Finnerty ’15 said a second year at the center forward position—where Pearson puts players with a knack for scoring—will benefit Kennedy further. Kennedy played on the wing during her first year on the team.

After several star seniors graduated last spring, Kennedy is the player with the most starts under her belt. Joining her at forward are Kimmy Ganong ’17 and Adrienne O’Donnell ’15, both first-time starters with whom Kennedy said she hopes to build further chemistry. 
Finnerty said she remembers the rapport between Kennedy and Riley as “instinctive,” noting that the two often assisted each other’s goals last season. 

Taking over for last season’s coring threat Olivia King ’14 is Mettler Growney ’17, who will seek to provide some of the consistency of last year’s NCAA tournament MVP. 

Of Kennedy’s three goals so far, two have been unassisted, with the Amherst game-winner coming off the stick of O’Donnell before Kennedy drove it home. 

“She has the speed and the quickness to beat players, coupled with good ball handling,” said Pearson.

Her first goal against Amherst demonstrated her expert scoring ability. Kennedy beat two defenders and avoided a charging goalie before hitting the bottom-left corner of the net.
Kennedy records a number of unassisted goals because of her impressive one-on-one play and athleticism, which she thinks comes from years of ice hockey.

Kennedy believes that she has been able to translate stick control from the ice to the turf.
Finnerty, who is also a member of the women’s hockey team, believes there is a “grit” in hockey that translates as well to the field.

“When you see her take a pole right,” Finnerty said, “it’s not the prettiest sight but it gets the job done. Rachel doesn’t have the most finesse out of anyone out there but it’s her hard work that makes it work.”

Both women picked up field hockey sticks for the first time as freshmen in high school, and Finnerty thinks that this commitment to ice hockey caused them to miss out on the experience that comes from playing more consistently on field hockey club teams. 

For her part, Kennedy noted that she has been working on taking the pole with more authority; she noted her tendency to go left more often. 

Both players laughed about Kennedy’s continued attempt to master the reverse, a more difficult maneuver that a player to subtly break the rule that the ball can only touch one side of the stick and hit a low, fast shot, vaguely resembling a backhand.

Pearson said that the adjustmentsto the lineup have affected chemistry, as the new players attempt to learn Kennedy’s tendencies and she tries to learn their’s. Pearson praised Kennedy’s one-on-one defense, but admitted that there is still an emphasis on completing double-teams with players around her, either with Growney or one of the wings.

As the season progresses, Kennedy will likely settle further into her role as the team’s primary scorer, though Pearson said that she ultimately does not care who scores. Finnerty called Kennedy the leader of the forward line, and Pam Herter ’15 said that while she is more of a playmaker than a scorer, her impact on the game will not change.

“She’s matured as a player in terms of her decision making,” said Herter. “She makes [the forwards] a little faster. But the core of her game remains the same—very strong, very fast, unbelievable one-on-one skills. Every time she is on the field she is a scoring threat. It’s not pressure we put on her but it’s still sort of the reality of having her as a player.”