By Grant Playter | Staff Writer
A light breeze wafted over the field at Lions Stadium, the cool fall air a delight for players and spectators alike. On the field, The College of New Jersey Lions and Eastern University Eagles field hockey teams duked it out for dominance. Ultimately, the Lions would come out the victor by a healthy margin, ending with a score of 5-2 and a season record of 13-3. Their regular season began in the blistering heat of summer, and it ended on a breezy, inauspicious autumn day in Oct.
But this breezy, inauspicious autumn day had a lot more lurking beneath the surface than the benign appearance would have you believe. Sporting events are always loaded with emotion, from start-to-finish. Shot-after-shot, step-after-step, they fought for every inch until the game clock hit zero. But the emotions weren’t just on the field. This day was special for a lot of reasons, first of which was as clear as the pink socks worn by the Lions.
“It feels nice to be able to support cancer and do it through what we do here,” Lions head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “I think it’s really important for our student-athletes to know that we have to look beyond ourselves and that we have to help others.”
“Play 4 The Cure” is an event hosted every year that donates all its proceeds directly to the National Foundation for Cancer Research. In every play of the game, the reminder of what the players were playing for was front and center. Elizabeth Morrison, a senior player forward for the Lions and the only player to score multiple goals this game, was especially thankful for the opportunity.
“Thankfully it hasn’t been too cold with fall, it was a sunny, beautiful day,” Morrison said. “We had a “Play 4 The Cure” day game [on Saturday] too so it was really nice how that wound up, because I think we had a little bit more fans here for the senior day aspect, which means we got more donations to help for the cure.”
While the proceeds of a small college field hockey game may be a drop in the bucket of the billions-funneled into cancer research each year, Morrison was quick to elaborate on what putting their share toward fighting for the cure meant to her and the other players.
“A lot of people on our team have had family members, as well as millions across the country, who have been affected by cancer,” Morrison said. “So it’s really big for us to have support, so we can have those donations and go fund cures for all the different types of cancers.”
The emotions don’t quite end there. As Morrison mentioned, it was Senior Day, which not only caused a surge in attendance, but also served the last hurrah for the senior players. While the Lions will advance to the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament next, this is the last regular season game for Morrison and team goalie Christina Fabiano. For them, any game in the post-season could be their last.
“Thankfully, I also have lacrosse season coming for the spring, so it’s not my last-last game, but it is really sad,” Morrison said. “We do big scrap books and gifts before so that was so emotional for Christina and I before the game.”
The Lions, as the #2 Seeded team, will host #3 Seed Rowan University at home this Wednesday. Should they win that match, they will compete in the finals for the NJAC conference this Saturday. They would compete against the winner of the Kean University and Montclair State University game, the #1 and #4 seeds respectively, hosted at the same time as their own semi-final.
What was once a part of their every day life will soon come to an end for Morrison and Fabiano. But ending on an incredible, play-off worthy season in a game bigger than just what’s happening on the field is a heck of a way to head into the postseason. Coach Pfluger agreed with that sentiment, a cheery tint to her voice as she reminisced about the day.
“I think that it’s always a special day for us and I hope that it’s a special day for everyone involved,” Pfluger said.
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