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the Gauntlet

Optimism the key for successful field hockey season

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Despite dropping their first two games to the University of Victoria Vikes this past weekend at Hawkings Field, the University of Calgary Dinos field hockey team is optimistic about the direction their squad is taking this season.

The youthful Dinos held the strong Vikes team to just one goal in the first half of the second game in the weekend doubleheader.

"It was a good outcome for us," said Dinos head coach Jenn Swagar. "It was unexpected. Their stats are way better than ours and their defence played solid."

Despite the even score at the half-time the Vikes proved too strong and experienced as they fed off the mistakes of the Dinos and scored three unanswered goals, giving them a 4-1 victory.

"In the second half, the girls didn't come out and execute the game plan," said Swagar. "[The Vikes] capitalized on a couple of our turnovers, which is one of our goals this year, to minimize the turnovers."

Saturday's season opening game was a positive turnaround for the team as they managed to keep turnovers to a minimum.

"Their turnover rate was probably about half of what it was last year in the first game," said Swagar, "So that's an exceptional stat for us."

The Dinos ultimately gave in to their old habits, losing 2-1 in the Kickoff homecoming game, but Swagar said that the mistakes are happening less and less.

"We had some key performances on Saturday," she said. "It was a respectable game. We gave them one goal on an error. Those are the things that are going to happen with young players, so hopefully we can minimize those so we don't give free goals away."

Emma Guppy scored the lone goal for the Dinos, but much like the team, she had an up-and-down weekend.

"Saturday, she played awesome, Sunday, not so good because she was playing through some injuries, so I think mentally that had an [effect on her]," said Swagar.

Sixteen-year-old Carolina Romeo made her Canadian Interuniversity Sport debut as the youngest athlete to wear a Dinos uniform on Saturday. According to Swagar, she was eager to take to the pitch.

"I took her off for about five minutes to re-emphasize the game plan," she said. "But other than that, she executed it well."

The team makes the trip to the west coast this weekend to battle the tough University of British Columbia Thunderbird team, a test the Dinos are looking forward to.

"We're ready to go," said Swagar. "We're looking good."