Stephen Pacheco

Staff Writer

Tell me what have been your observations on the season so far, I know you guys are 3-4 and split the games this weekend [they beat La Salle 2-1, then lost to Longwood by same margin]. What are you doing well, and what can you improve?

Davis: Well, considering it’s basically the same players on the field as last season, and we had a pretty poor season last year – I think we won 3 games total last year and we’ve already had 3 wins this year – we’re already off on a way more positive note. But for me, it’s a testament to our talent that last year we had the same people but this year we’re seeming to make the connections more. Last year, we had all these individuals who were talented but we couldn’t make it click, and now that we’ve had a whole year of playing together we’ve made it click. So some games we’ve been off –we’ve obviously had a few tough losses – but overall it’s a much stronger team than last year, and it’s because we have a year together under our belts that we’ve really figured it out.

And as a senior with 4 years of experience, how do you add to that chemistry you’re talking about, and how have you seen the team develop over your 4 years?

My freshman year I came in and there was a very strong senior class above us. So for me, I was always looking up to them, and that’s what I’ve been trying to embody this year. When I came in, we had an over-.500 season, or very close to that, and with a tough schedule – a lot of ACC schools – that’s a pretty good record for our program. And these last two years, we had smaller senior classes and not that strong leadership that we kind of looked for when I was a freshman coming in, and it kind of showed in our record. We didn’t have those leaders; we didn’t have those people pushing us constantly to be better. And then this year, our class, we came in as nine and we still have seven of us involved in the program. And just having that big class that’s seen what can be there if there’s good leadership and good effort from everybody – that’s what we’re trying to embody this year. And it’s shown so far in our record.

Tell me about how your career has developed. When did you start playing, what got you into field hockey, and how did you end up here?

So I didn’t play field hockey until high school ,really. I was a gymnast my whole life and was really into that. When you’re 16, you’re doing a ton of hours in the gym, and I ended up breaking my elbow. So I ended up reaching the Junior Olympic level in gymnastics, and then you can’t really come back from something like that. So I was going into high school at the time that this happened, and I knew I wanted to play a team sport. So when I was there, field hockey was a big team sport in Maryland, so that’s what I picked up, and I loved it because all my friends played it and they were my friends since I was 2. So they kind of got me involved with it, and then I started realizing that sports was something I really wanted to be involved with all my life. I was always really competitively driven, and I knew I’d probably want to do that at the college level, but I knew I wanted to be at a Division 1 school academically – whether I made it for sports or not. So then my coach saw me play my junior year, and I was being recruited by 2 or 3 different schools, and Davidson clearly stood out to me as the one I wanted to go to – both for sports and academics. There really wasn’t another option. There was more money offered at other schools, but this was the program I wanted to be at.

So now that you’re here, how has your game developed over the course of your being here?

So I scored the first goal and the last goal of the season in my freshman year and none in between, so it was a very rollercoaster season for me. I started off on a huge high, and ended on a huge high note, and wanted to carry that with me into my sophomore year. I had a great sophomore year and felt very confident in where I was playing, and then junior year our whole team had this kind of slump. And I don’t think it was just me personally, but we as a team kind of were low last season. So this year I’m just so happy that we’ve started off on such a positive foot personally, and there are so many different people scoring games this year. The offensive rhythm is there.

What would you say are the characteristics of what makes you a leader on the team, and how can you continue to drive your team forward?

I’m one of those people who will step back with a player and explain what could have happened in this situation – maybe go over two or three different scenarios trying to get them to think about what they could have done in different places – but talking more 1-on-1 is my approach. I’m not the person that’s going to come into the huddle and say the right thing to pump everyone up before the game, but I’m going to take someone aside and say, “Maybe you should try to position yourself here,” or “That cut wasn’t the best move at that time and this is the reason why, and if you’d done this it would have created more options.” So I think that is where my strong suit is as opposed to being the leader in the exact moment.

What’s your outlook for the rest of the season?

I’m really looking to make the A-10 tournament, and I think that’s a really viable goal for us. Moving to the A-10 was a big transition for us, since we started out in the NorPac [Northern Pacific Field Hockey Conference] my first two years here, and last year we didn’t have the season we wanted. So this year I really want to prove to the A-10 what kind of program we really are. Only about 4 teams make the tournament, and there’s about 9 or 10 in our conference – it’s very small – but it’s doable, and we’ve already won our first A-10 game on Friday and we have our second this Friday. So if we can have our focus on those A-10 wins, that’s a very viable goal for us.

How has your family helped in your development? You’ve said they come to support you at all your games. What does that mean to you?

I don’t think they ever expected me to be a Division 1 athlete. I think it came as a surprise. When I said I was going to play team sports in high school, they were like, “You know you may not make the team, so don’t get worried if you don’t make the team this year,” because I had just never been involved in team sports. But, they come to every single one of my games. My mom drove me to all the tournaments growing up, and my dad takes off work whenever he can to make the weekend games. Everyone knows my mom is the loudest person on the sidelines – not in an obnoxious way – but she dances and cheers, so it wasn’t just me buying into the program, it was my parents buying into the whole process too and I wouldn’t be here without them.