A condensed spring season with a shortened bench was not enough to stop senior field hockey player Audrey Sawers from making her mark on the Patriot League leaderboard.
The North Vancouver, British Columbia native concluded her college career as a member of the conference All-League first team, and also led the regular season in goals while tying for first in points. The Leopards played just six games in a shortened spring schedule and did not qualify for the playoffs.
“We obviously didn’t get the results we wanted this season, but that didn’t mean that we weren’t in contention the whole time,” Sawers said. “All of our losses were within one goal, so we were constantly competing and were definitely at the top of the league, but our results didn’t show that.”
While the team was 1-5 overall, every loss during the season was by a single goal, as Sawers said, with games against Boston University and American going to overtime and double overtime, respectively.
“We only had four girls on campus in the fall, and so all of the other teams in the league were able to train together,” Sawers added. “That was a bit of a disadvantage at the beginning, but we were able to kind of fight through that.”
The team had other challenges it had to face going into the season as well.
“This year we had a shorter bench just based on some COVID issues,” Sawers said. “I’d say that was a challenge, but it kind of also turned into an adaptability piece for us because we had players playing in huge roles on the team that they hadn’t in the past.”
“Also there was just the challenge of only having six games and going right into league play and needing to immediately make an impact on the field without having a lot of time to fix any issues that are going on,” she added.
Outside of the pitch, Sawers recounted her time on the team and some of her favorite memories as a field hockey player.
“One day when it was kind of snowing, we got a text from our coach saying that our practice was going to be delayed,” she recalled. “When we got out to the field they had shoveled fun little paths for us and then we had a huge snowball fight, and we were able to just mess around as a team. It kind of turned into a team bonding and it was nice to just be out on the field together.”
“We’re super close as a team, and we pride ourselves on our connection and our team culture,” Sawers added. “We have built in best friends, and to do everything together has been the best part.”
As for Sawers’s greatest partner on the field, she gave a shoutout to classmate Anna Steps, who joined Sawers in All-League honors this season, making the second team for her second season in a row. Sawers made the All-League first team for the first time this spring.
“Steps and I played in the midfield together and so we had some nice passing combinations. We work well together,” Sawers said. “I’ve played defense in the past, so it was really fun to play midfield with her.”
Impressively, Sawers was able to make a smooth transition into the midfield and have an immediate impact on the team, as evidenced by her statistics. The co-captain led the league with four goals, tied for first for the conference in points with 10 and tied for the team lead in assists with two, along with Steps.
“It’s a little shocking honestly,” Sawers said. “In the past few seasons I played defense and so this year I moved up to midfield, so I kind of just became more of an attacking presence for our team.”
Perhaps Sawers’ high school athletic accolades were what accounted for that smooth transition. At Handsworth, Sawers was a five-year starter on midfield and was the school’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2015 and 2016. Additionally, Sawers played five years of basketball and soccer, spent three years on the track and field team and two years with volleyball.
“I started playing when I was around six. My family’s super active and we’ve always been involved in sports, so I played a lot of sports growing up,” Sawers said. “I played competitive field hockey and soccer, and then one day I kind of had the realization that if I wanted to play competitive sports, I needed to choose one to focus on, and that ended up being field hockey.”
Sawers explained that when it came to college recruitment, she didn’t know what to expect coming from Canada, where they handle recruiting differently.
“I didn’t really know playing in the NCAA was an opportunity for me in general. I could have played at home if I wanted, but I would never have had an opportunity to come to America to study and play,” she said.
Sawers has been a model of consistency for the Leopards: She saw action in all 18 games her rookie season, starting in five, then started all 19 games her sophomore year in 2018. Sawers again played in every single game during her junior year in 2019 and then was the star of the show this spring.
“With each of her seasons she really has taken a step forward,” said head field hockey coach Jennifer Stone. “She was one of our co-captains this year as well, which I think made her lead in different ways. She’s a very good hockey player.”
Off the pitch, Sawers is an economics major and a member of the Athlete Ally club. She’s not yet sure what she has in store for the future, but she definitely wants to keep field hockey as a part of her life as it has been for so many years.
“But beyond just being good at [field hockey], she’s incredibly competitive, she’s really driven, she’s really committed,” Stone said. “And I think she has a really bright future in the sport, and beyond.”
Managing Editor Andrew Hollander ’21 contributed reporting.