Sideline Stories: Lucy Norris, Bates Field Hockey’s Historic NCAA Tournament Run

I hear the crack as the ball connects with the back of the cage. The whistle blows, and we all glance around, registering the significance of the moment. We’ve just made program history by clinching victory in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Now, we’re poised to advance to the semifinals, propelling us one step closer to securing a spot in the DIII NCAA Field Hockey Playoffs.

We rush the field, the sideline converging with the players who’ve tirelessly battled through our second overtime against Bowdoin. The ensuing group hug, filled with jumps and screams, floods me with the purest joy I’ve ever experienced. Our fans barrel onto the field, and our parents look on from the stands, their pride, love, and excitement radiating brightly.

This is just one of the many extraordinary moments from the Bates field hockey 2023 season.

My name is Lucy Norris and I am a sophomore at Bates College. As a Chicagoan who didn’t touch a field hockey stick until I was 15, I never expected to call Lewiston home and a team of East Coasters my sisters. However, coming into my second season as a player on Bates field hockey, I knew it was going to be a memorable one.

We kicked off the year with three wins and 22 goals in just the first week. Despite a rocky next few games, we remained steadfast, never allowing our spirit to waver. We defeated Trinity in overtime and secured our place at #10 in the country, a new program record. Finishing out our season with eight wins out of nine games in October, we felt unstoppable heading into the postseason. We closed out our season with numerous program milestones: a record-breaking thirteen wins in a season, an unbeaten home record, the best-ever NESCAC record (7-3), the highest ranking in the NFHCA coaches poll (7th), and the most goals scored in a season (63).

In the opening round of the NESCAC playoffs, we faced Bowdoin amidst the shadow of the tragic shooting that occurred in Lewiston just five days before the game. We stepped onto the field wearing blue socks to show our love for Lewiston, and hoped to bring some light to a healing community. The game was a grueling hour and 50 minutes of sweat and determination, and our win felt like it was about more than just field hockey. Junior Anna Lindies felt that the win was vindicating. “The energy of that game was powerful, and that night we solidified the fact that we are fierce competitors who deserve to be in those top NESCAC spots.”

After a loss in the semifinals against Williams, we didn’t know if our season was over or if we were going to have another shot at continuing our season, this time in the national playoffs. Huddled together in our meeting room, we anxiously awaited the announcement of teams selected for the NCAA DIII tournament. When we heard our name, we knew we had achieved something momentous: we were the first team in Bates Field Hockey history to be chosen for the NCAA tournament.

After an incredible win in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, we headed to the sweet sixteen where we learned that unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. In overtime against the #2 ranked team in the country, the whistle resounded as the ball found the cage, but this time the ensuing screams didn’t belong to us. Shock and sadness washed over the faces of my teammates and coaches. We had played the best game of our lives; how could it end like this?

“A huge part of me couldn’t process that it was over because I firmly believed we would win,” our Head Coach Dani Kogut shared. Finally, we all came together on the field in one final hug. Although tears ran down our cheeks and emotional hugs took over the field, our happiness and pride from the season was able to overpower the sadness from the loss. No loss could take away the strength, determination and sheer love of the game and each other that propelled us as far as we could have ever imagined this season.

Go Bobcats!