6th Sense: Baker knows how to make it happen at Middlebury
COLLEGE FIELD HOCKEY
For the Blue, she was the gold standard of hustle and heart.
And now for Middlebury, Marissa Baker is a finely honed version of the same.
It’s concentration over strength. And that was something that was a huge transition.
— Marissa Baker
“She is very aggressive, very quick, very competitive,” said Middlebury coach Katharine DeLorenzo. “And she just has a terrific spirit about her.”
Baker (DHS 2016, Middlebury ’20) is playing offensive midfield in tandem with top scorer Annie Leonard (GH 2014, Middlebury ’18), also from town.
“She scores a million goals a game, she’s awesome,” said Baker of her cohort on right wing. “Absolutely. You can pass the ball to Annie and you know that she is going for the goal. I think in that way, I almost play the same role I played with Georgia (Cassidy, DHS 2016, Colby ’20). Georgia, I know she is going to have a shot on the cage or score. That’s the same as I have with Annie every single time. And having a player like that on the field is game-changing.”
“She has a sixth sense, she knows how to score a goal,” DeLorenzo said. “And she’s sort of seething to make that happen all the time.”
She’s in on the scoring, but Baker’s about keeping opponents off kilter too.
“She’s become a really intuitive defender,” DeLorenzo said. “She’s very difficult to play against because she is just so spontaneously energetic and it’s difficult to keep up with her.”
Baker started the four-straight-goal parade to the net that gave the Panthers a 6-3 win over Bates on Oct. 21. She had one assist.
The Panthers’ (DIII No. 2 nationally ranked) have won 10 straight, most recently defeating Bates again in the NESCAC Quarterfinals 4-1 where Baker scored.
Middlebury is 14-2, and leads the NESCAC at 9-1.
Baker is Panthers third leading scorer with eight goals, two game-winning, and 20 points in 16 games.
“I play right/inside, which is like a midfield/forward hybrid,” said Baker. “But (it’s) definitely more offensive. But I am playing more defense now than I ever did in high school.
“First, I had to learn how to do it.”
“What she’s really done is grown her game, into being someone who is multidimensional, rather than just a goal-scorer,” DeLorenzo said. “She has good body control, excellent strength, good striking ability, and has become a really strong contributor defensively for us. Which makes her a really good midfielder.”
Baker had to make do her transition freshman year.
“Last year it was kind of like a tough beginning,” said Baker. “Because I really hurt my (hip) so I was out for the first part of the season. So then when I came back in I really had to learn that college hockey is a lot more about being patient and finding the right time to attack your opponent. And you can’t just go 100 percent the entire time. Because that’s how you overcommit and a team will get past you.”
And she did floor the hustle-ometer up to 110 on the field, and on the ice, her four-years with the Wave.
“So I would say college hockey is a lot more… It’s concentration over strength. And that was something that was a huge transition; it’s just a completely different mental state. It’s patience, it’s waiting. It’s being more in control of your body. And I really had to learn all of those things.”
And now she’s showing them how.
Beating Tufts 3-2 on Oct. 7, where Baker scored and had an assist, put a bold Middlebury stamp on the top spot in the league.
“Tufts beat us in the NESCAC Championship last year,” Baker said. “And then they went on to lose in the national championship. And the team that beat them beat us in the semifinals. So when we went out to play them this year, everyone was like, ‘oh, Tufts is going for a national championship, blah, blah, blah,’ and so we went out there and it was Senior Day, and it was definitely our biggest game of the season.”
Tufts went ahead 2-1 with seconds to go in the first half.
“We held a 3-2 lead for 17 minutes,” Baker said of how Middlebury closed out its comeback. “And they didn’t get a single corner. It was that kind of win where you just feel that pure, white (hot) joy when you run onto the field to congratulate your goalie.”
It’s a feeling she’s chased for some time.
And in her league, Baker finds herself chased, and chasing, familiar faces she's shared those same feelings with.
“Playing NESCAC is really fun,” she said. “Because every time you go to a team, you just see someone you know. You go to play Amherst and me and Laura Schwartzman (DHS 2016) are marking each other in the circle. Or you go and play Bates and Meaghan Waldron’s (DHS 2017) out in the back when you’re chasing the ball; Emily Gianunzio (DHS 2017) at Bates; Olivia Hoyda’s (DHS 2016) at Trinity; Georgia’s at Colby; Courtney Lowe’s (DHS 2017) at Amherst as well. And you’re playing, like your high school team split up.”
Hannah McLane (DHS 2016) has taken on a student/coach role with the Bobcats, having suffered a concussion that’s kept her out of the play.
“Coming from the No. 1 team in the state, it’s not a crazy transition,” Baker said. “It’s the same expectation, in that, we are the best, so we are going to play, the best. And that’s how we do it. And that’s how I was taught to do it in high school. It’s like we have a name to uphold, we have a reputation and we have to play that way.”