Field hockey surges past Syracuse on senior night

The 4-0 victory locks up the No.2-seed in the ACC Championship for Wake Forest


Evan Harris

Freshman Ava Cickavage (center, in black) prepares to shoot against the Syracuse goalkeeper.

Aaron Nataline, Sports Editor

Senior nights are naturally going to feel special. Athletes walk into their home stadium for their careers’ regular-season finale, ready to pour their passion for their sport into a performance that aims to match the significance of the event.

This past Friday, Oct. 28, No. 12 Wake Forest field hockey mesmerized those proud families, friends, and fans with a 4-0 victory over No. 9 Syracuse. The senior night for Wake Forest field hockey was beyond special. The performance that the Demon Deacons put on was like no other and made for a bittersweet experience as seniors and graduates strode down midfield with their proud families. Perhaps more importantly, the victory secured the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament for the Demon Deacons.

The matchup quickly unfolded as if the Demon Deacons were a higher-ranked, top-10 squad. Maybe that should be expected with the advantage of so many families and friends present to celebrate senior players’ careers one last time at Kentner Stadium, but I just don’t know if I can chalk it all up to that— it seemed that I was simply witnessing a masterclass.

Just seven minutes into the game, Wake Forest perfectly executed a play off of a penalty corner to take an early lead. Junior midfielder Grace Delmotte sent the ball to the corner with precision to midfielder Meike Lanckohr at the center of the line. The senior quickly positioned the ball for graduate defender Sky Carson to whip into the bottom left corner of the goal. Putting the team up 1-0, the tag team of Lanckohr and Caron celebrated their early score, but they were far from finishing their impressive performance on senior night.

Carson anchored the offense all night with junior defender Lee Ann Gordon and graduate midfielder Abby Carpenter. They were flawlessly able to swing the ball among the three of them until a deeper pass opened up for an attacker.

Meike Lanchokr took advantage of a buildup not three minutes after the first goal when she made a senior’s cut to the left side of the shooting circle to smoothly receive a pass and dribble it right up to the goal cage. Syracuse already knew to be wary of her, so defenders and goalkeeper alike focused on her as Lanchokr skipped the ball to junior forward Anna Gwiazdsinkski, who calmly fired a scoring shot to bring the lead to 2-0 just under ten minutes into the game.

In the second quarter, there were fewer of the incredible offensive plays that characterized the first quarter. However, Wake Forest impressed on defense to keep their lead stable going into the half up 2-0 and 3-2 in shots. The Orange attack could not help but be hindered by the defensive pressure of Lanckohr and sophomore midfielder Ashley Hart, a duo constantly forcing turnovers on sideline attacks.

Wake Forest made swift work to claim the momentum in the second half. Six minutes in, they forced back-to-back penalty corners after junior midfielder Grace Delmotte took the Orange off guard by leaving defenders trailing behind after a series of fake-out jabs and flicks. The crowd roared as she passed right through midfield to get the elongated attack started.

Off a second penalty corner, senior midfielder Nat Friedman collected the ball at the top of the striking circle, calming the offense. Then she whipped a pass to dribbling-savant Delmotte, who skipped it onto sophomore midfielder Brooke McCusker right in front of the cage. McCusker flicked a shot around the goalkeeper, who could only watch as Wake Forest went up 3-0.

Syracuse seemed to switch up their game plan, as they began mimicking the careful passing of Wake Forest instead of relying on dribbling it through midfield. It seemed to pay off for better opportunities toward the end of the third, but their two best chances were thwarted by graduate midfielder Abby Carpenter and freshman forward Rachel Thetford.

With just under three minutes left in the game, Wake Forest saved the arguably most exceptional goal for last. From the Demon Deacons’ side of the pitch, sophomore midfielder Ashley Hart slung an unbelievable deep pass down the field, the ball never leaving the ground but somehow finding junior defender Immie Gillgrass alone with the Syracuse goalkeeper. The latter came out from the cage to try to stop the ball earlier, but Gillgrass dove to get to the pass first and swung a shot from the right side of the striking circle into the bottom left corner of the goal. I think everyone present was stunned by the play, but nevertheless, Wake Forest went up 4-0 in an expiring match against a top-ten opponent.

To make senior night even sweeter, seniors Sky Carson and Meike Lanckohr were named to the All-ACC first team, and senior Nat Friedman earned placement in the second team.