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The Hawkshot: Sarah Hawkshaw, her unusual shot and more

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

When junior Massachusetts field hockey center midfielder Sarah Hawkshaw winds up for a shot, she does so in an unconventional way, winding up for a reverse shot as opposed to forehand shot.

The irregularity of her shot has earned it the nickname “the hawkshot,” a term coined by Cody Lahl, associate director of athletics communications.

“I don’t know, I don’t know who came up with that,” Hawkshaw said. “It’s always something I’ve kind of had in my back pocket if I’m ever on the left side of the circle, I always go for it.”

Hawkshaw, a native of Dublin, Ireland, attributes the majority of the shot development to herself and some of her friends from back home.

“I kind of coached myself to do it,” Hawkshaw said. “In school I used to teach myself to do it, I had a friend who used to be pretty good at it and I learned from her.”

In 2016, Hawkshaw has tied her career high for goals in a season (9), but has set a personal record for points (21), and first-year head coach Amy Robertson says that nobody else can take credit for it.

“No one can take credit for Sarah Hawkshaw’s shot except for her,” Robertson said. “And her skill. She’s just a natural talent with the ball and she has an incredible backhand, she has incredible elimination skills… She’s just such an asset to the team.”

Hawkshaw started training almost immediately during the summer after returning to campus in June and started playing with any players who were already here, sometimes even playing a pick up game if there were enough players. What she says she works on most consistently is her shot.

“Shooting probably,” Hawkshaw said of what she worked on during individual training. “Any chance I get, I’m there in the circle, shooting against the goal or anyone I can.”

Robertson described Hawkshaw as a complete player and one who can spark the offense and give the defense space when they need it.

“She’s a threat,” Robertson said. “In terms of goal scoring, in terms of defense… She’s very smart. She understands the game. She’s a complete player, an all-around player and she continues to get better.”

According to Robertson, the team has not measured Hawkshaw’s shot, but estimates her reverse shot comes in at around 60 mph. What’s hard about defending Hawkshaw’s shot is not its speed, but the angles at which she takes it.

“A reverse shot is probably the toughest shot you can take in field hockey because you don’t know where it’s going to go,” said redshirt junior goalie Emily Hazard. “[Sarah] has a shot that can go anywhere and it’s really hard to block.”

Hazard says that Hawkshaw will shoot on her every day. Whether it’s in practice or not, the two are always looking to perfect their skills – Hazard for ways to stop the shot, and Hawkshaw for more ways to score more goals.

Hazard later added there is no real way to prepare for a shot like Hawkshaw’s.

“You have to be set, but even then you have to have a bit of luck and read it as soon as possible,” Hazard said on what it takes to stop the shot.

When taking a shot, Hawkshaw says she aims for the far post and she then prepares for a ricochet off the goalie.

“Usually try to get far post at least,” Hawkshaw said when asked about her approach. “Anything into the corners is what I’m going for.”

The Minutewomen have three more games left on their schedule until the Atlantic-10 tournament in Richmond, VA. Hawkshaw is currently one goal away from a personal record and tied for third place in the conference for goals with teammate Izzie DeLario,.

For the rest of the season, all Robertson wants to see is her staying healthy and to continue to improve.

Zander Manning can be reached at alexanderman@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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