Richmond field hockey concluded its season Friday, beating Saint Louis 3-0 and officially winning the Atlantic 10 regular-season title. With an overall record of 11-8 and a conference record of 7-1, the Spiders will enter the A-10 tournament as the top seed.

Richmond was predicted to struggle this season. The Spiders needed to fill a void that two anchors of the team, captain Rebecca Barry and goalie Kelley Wentling, left after graduating last May. These two stars led the team to an A-10 championship last fall, setting high expectations for the 2015 season.

The Spiders overcame the media’s doubts and filled the void through the leadership of two senior defensive backs, Amy Cooke and Allison Haas. Both Haas and Cooke are team captains and provide shutdown defense while coordinating the game from the back. By the end of the season, the Spiders allowed only four conference goals, three fewer than the next best A-10 team.

Freshman goalie Emily Braunewell outperformed expectations, as did sophomore goalie Amanda Hoyt. Braunewell finished the season with six wins out of nine games played and a 1.78 goals against average. By comparison, Wentling recorded a 1.53 goals against average last season.

The absence of Barry was perhaps felt, and the offense lacked execution at times. Richmond was fifth in the conference for average goals scored per game and third for total conference goals.

The Spiders’ success this regular season can be heavily attributed to the team chemistry prompted by coach Gina Lucido. In her ninth year as coach of the Spiders, Lucido earned her 100th win and has since added nine more. As The Collegian’s Jennie Trejo wrote earlier this season, encouraging non-selfish play was crucial with the lack of a clear offensive star. Lucido capitalized on her years of experience to fabricate an environment, on and off the field, where team relationships were able to strengthen.

Lucido’s team-over-self ethic was reflected by the offense's affinity to assist. The team’s leader in assists, Avery Safford, had two more assists than the top goal scorer, Kelly Quinn, had goals. Overall, Richmond was second in the conference with total number of assists despite being third in goals scored.

Looking ahead to the A-10 championship tournament, Richmond will need its offense to score early and often when it faces Davidson in the first round. Davidson completed the year with a 5-3 conference record, due to strong defense. Although Richmond is the top seed and Davidson is the fourth, the Spiders lost their only conference game to Davidson on October 16. The game was a battle of defenses as Richmond was defeated in overtime, 1-0.

Both of the other two teams in the tournament, second seed Massachusetts and third seed Saint Joseph's, also have the capability to challenge Richmond. Both teams have stellar offenses with 42 conference goals between them. During the regular season the Spiders defeated both teams, but it took two overtime periods to beat Massachusetts.

To defend their A-10 championship title and repeat last year’s performance, the Spiders need to continue their defense dominance and improve their offense. They will look to team leaders such as Cooke and Haas for inspiration and leadership. Expect Richmond to be at the top once again.

The tournament is hosted by Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia at Ellen Ryan Field. Richmond will play Davidson at 11 a.m. this Friday, Nov. 6.

Contact writer Colby Wilcox at colby.wilcox@richmond.edu