Q&A with Field Hockey's Lucy Hyams
Sept. 24, 2014
Sophomore midfielder Lucy Hyams, the 2013 ACC Freshman of the Year, has already scored more goals this season (6) than she did in her rookie campaign (5) and currently leads the ACC in shots taken. Lucy sat down to talk to VirginiaSports.com this week about last weekend’s pair of exciting top-10 upsets, this Friday’s game against Syracuse and how she came to be at Virginia from her native England.
Going back to this last weekend, beating then-ranked No. 3 Duke at Duke, how big of a win was that for you?
That was huge, especially because they went to the final four last year and were ranked really high coming into the game. People think of us as the underdog, so people never know what they’re going to get when we come and play them. I think beating someone on their home turf is always a big deal, especially at Duke. They’re always a tough opponent. Getting to 2-0 in the ACC was really great too.
Being at Duke, a lot of people didn’t get to see the game, and they’re weren’t a lot of shots, weren’t a lot of saves, so describe what was going on there in the midfield that kept the ball out of the circle.
There were a lot of turnovers in the midfield, which created a lot of play there. There was a lot of defensive work outside the 25, which really held us out of the circle. I think that was frustrating for both teams. We play a lot of attacking hockey, so we were lucky not to get frustrated too early and to continue to play our game and keep doing what we were doing. It eventually worked out in our favor and we took the opportunities that we had. I think the shots were about even, so it proved that we capitalized on the opportunities that we had.
You were back home last Sunday and had to face another top-ten team. It was really two very different halves. In the first half, Albany really held possession of the ball and then you guys turned it around in the second half. Can you talk a little bit about the Albany game?
It was kind of funny because, like you said, in the Albany game they were completely in control in the first half, but we managed to go up 2-0, which I think was a surprise for us and for them. Then in the second half, I think we fixed things, sorted everything out and went back to our game plan. And that’s when they managed to score two goals. It ended up working out pretty fairly. Going into overtime, we had played two prior OT games prior to that one. It could potentially be one of our strengths because it allows us space and we’re patient moving forward. We don’t mind going into overtime, which I think is good for us, but not necessarily good for the teams that are coming up against us. Obviously the Caleigh [Foust] and Tara [Vittese] combination is killing the fear of the team. Albany was a tough side. I think the game could’ve gone either way and we just managed to pull it out of the bag in overtime because we’re more confident and we knew what we were doing. That was their first overtime since I think 2012 so we had the upper hand and had a little more practice than they did.
You’re leading the ACC in shots right now. Last year your stats were very skewed on the assist vs. the goals side and this year you have more goals than assists. What’s changed for you and your role in the team this year?
I think Tara is doing a lot of my job that I did last year. With the loss of Elly [Buckley] and a few other goals scorers, Caleigh, Riley and myself have picked up what they left behind. We needed a few people to step up to the role as goal scorers and I think it’s really good to have people scoring like Katie Kelly this weekend. I think for me personally, I really don’t know why I’m being that person. I kind of find myself in the goal-scoring-opportunity area. I’m not really sure why its happening but I don’t mind it, I like scoring goals and being in on the action. It’s fun.
What is the difference between your role and Tara’s role on the team?
I think there are a lot of similarities but I think that me and Tara play a different type of game. I like to beat a few players and then pass it on but I know Tara can beat 11 players and then score. I think that’s the difference, that she can take on five or six players, but I prefer one or two and then give it to someone else to do their thing. It’s really nice playing with Tara, and Emilia [Tapsall] too, because we have this connection even though we’ve never played before. It just comes automatically, it’s really nice. We know where each other are going to be on the field and it helps out the team.
You were the ACC Freshman of the Year last year. Having played for so many years for the English team at a high level, did that give you a leg up coming in or was NCAA field hockey completely unlike anything that you expected?
I think it helped coming off of a summer where I continuously played hockey, but coming out here is extremely different. The way we play and the system we play here is really different from anything I’ve played before. For me, being named the Rookie of the Year was a surprise because I don’t go out there to prove a point, or to have my name on the score sheet, or to do anything like that. I like to play for the team. It was nice to be recognized, but I don’t play hockey for that, I play to be a part of the team. I think this year we’ve got something special and we’re starting to prove that to people.
This weekend is going to be completely different because suddenly you’re not the underdog anymore, you’re the one with a target on your back. What changes for you? Or does anything change for you?
Not really. Even though in the rankings we’re not necessarily seen as the underdogs, I think people still see us as the underdogs because they think quite little of us. I think Syracuse is going to come out really hard, as usual. We didn’t have our best game there last year, so I think we have a point to prove in terms of what happened last season. All the girls who played there know that we’ve got to come out fighting. I think it’s going to be hard for Syracuse to come and play on our home turf with a crowd like ours. It’ll be a really good game but I’m not necessarily sure that we’re not still the underdogs.
You’ve been playing with the English national team since you were 14. Where are some of the places you’ve gotten to go while playing field hockey?
We’re lucky that Europe leads the way in hockey so we played a lot of our games in Europe. There’s the annual Four Nations tournament between Holland, Germany, Spain, and England, so I’ve been to those countries. We went to Gibraltar for a training camp. We never went anywhere really far because we had teams to play in our own area, which were two or three hours away. My best experience was the Junior World Cup. You don’t experience any other tournament like that. To play against Ghana, and the United States, and Australia, and all these highly ranked teams with amazing programs was really exciting.
How did you end up at Virginia?
Jess Orrett and I played a lot together in the U16 and I knew she had come out here. When I was younger, I was really into football (soccer) and wanted to do that. I really liked the film `Bend it Like Beckham’ so I always had it in the back of my mind to come to a university in America. My dad and mom knew it, too, and that I was going to do something different than my sisters. I sent out a few e-mails and [former UVa assistant coach ] Michael [Boal] got back in touch with me saying that he was really interested. He asked me to send him a few clips. Then Michele got involved. I think some of Michael’s family in England watched me play in a Premiere League game. I wanted to come here before, but it didn’t work out. So I took a year out, got a job as a hockey coach for a school back at home, and then I was a receptionist so I wasn’t bored when I wasn’t training or practicing. I played club hockey at the Canterbury Hockey Club, we have a really good club system back at home. Then I came here and it all just happened really fast.
How weird was it to jump back into playing after your year off and being in a new country?
At my last school, I got to choose what course I wanted to do. I liked how, coming out here, I got to choose what I wanted to do and didn’t have to pick a specific path to go down. I was excited but kind of scared because I hadn’t written an essay or taken an exam in over a year. I didn’t really know where to begin. It was interesting to take different things.