By Mike Biglin, The Norwood Bulletin
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Sammy Hayes entered her final field hockey season at Bridgewater State focused and ready, after working out all summer with her younger sister Coley, a sophomore defender at Worcester State.
“I definitely stepped it up over the summer,” said the former Norwood High standout. “With my sister, we played against each other and we would work out together every chance we could get. We really pushed each other.”
It ended up being just another example of how well hard work pays off, as Hayes enjoyed one of the finest seasons in Bears history. She scored 23 goals in 18 games, the third best goal-scoring output for the program. Tack on her five assists and she posted 51 points, which ranks fourth all-time at BSU.
The stellar campaign earned Hayes a spot on the Little East All-Conference First Team, and was the perfect capper to an outstanding career.
“I honestly didn’t think that I would ever score 23 goals,” she said. “I was extremely happy with myself. Personally, my goal was a pretty simple one – get the ball to the net.”
She ended up doing so much more than that, as her standout senior campaign gave her career totals of 47 goals (third all-time at BSU) and 111 points (fourth all-time).
“I could go on for days about her,” said coach Tia Rogers. “She was a part of my first full recruiting class, and I saw her definitely being a key influencer on and off the field. As I saw her grow, I could see her being a goal scorer. And this year, with the support around her and the confidence she built, she put it all together.”
Hayes accounted for 47 percent of the squad’s offensive output, and five of her goals were game-winners as the Bears went 9-9 during a roller-coaster campaign. After winning the opener, they lost four in a row, but then won four straight to get back on track. The Bears, however, dropped three of their next four to fall to 6-7 and things looked dire, but Hayes picked the team up.
She tallied twice, posting her 100th career point, in a 4-1 win over Framingham State, potted two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over UMass-Dartmouth, and then had the finest game of her career at Wheaton. Down a goal in the final minutes, Hayes stick-handled into the circle and rifled a shot home to tie the game with 1:22 to go. At 2:01 of overtime, she got behind the defense and completed her third hat trick of the season to earn a 4-3 triumph.
“That’s one I’ll never forget,” said Rogers. “I remember I looked at my assistant and was like ‘Oh my gosh, thank God for Sammy.’ ”
“That was an unreal feeling,” Hayes recalled. “We needed a win to help out our record. When I got the pass (in overtime) from (teammate Julianne Kilduff), I had to do something and end the game.”
Unfortunately for Hayes and the Bears, that was the final high point of the campaign, as they were shutout in their final two games, including a 4-0 loss to No. 2 Keene State in the Little East Tournament.
“It was very up and down,” said Hayes about the season, “but it just goes to show that anything can happen on any given day. We definitely had some teams upset us ... and if we had those wins, our seed would’ve been better for the conference tournament.”
Rogers believed Hayes set the perfect example for the Bears she’s leaving behind.
“She put a lot of work in off the field,” said the coach. “It was her senior year, and she kind of went in and gave her everything. She wanted to leave a legacy and make her impact. It was about how she wanted to be remembered, and she took it seriously.
“We’re going to miss her so much,” Rogers added. “And not just on the field, though her skill on the field is noteworthy, but the effort she put in off the field to help the program turn around.”
Hayes is now focused on completing her studies in exercise science, with a concentration in health fitness. She’s hoping to go into physical therapy, and she’s already been working on her prerequisite courses for graduate school, while also interviewing for an internship at a local physical therapy practice.
Her official playing days may be over, but Hayes doesn’t think field hockey is done completely.
“I could definitely see myself coaching someday,” she said. “I would love to get up to coach at the college level, but I’d be more than happy to start at the high school level and see what happens.”
Rogers feels coaching will be a perfect fit.
“She is one of those players you only come by so often, and she was constantly working with other players, coaching the other athletes what she knows, how to maybe think about a situation different,” said Rogers. “I told her I think you should carry on with this, and I don’t think this will be the last season with field hockey in your life.”