New head coach Gale Lackey took over the Wesleyan field hockey program in 1978, just before its seventh season. A year earlier, the team was 2-5-1, and over its first six seasons tha program’s cumulative record was 11-35-5 with no more than four wins in any one season. In her first season Coach Lackey led her squad to a fine 10-1 mark, followed by a 10-2-1 season in 1979.
The 1980 season capped a three-year dynasty as the Cardinals produced their first undefeated season of 8-0-3 and their second outright Little Three title. The team was led by a particularly stingy defense that produced six shutouts in 11 contests and held two other opponents to one goal. The Little Three victories were particularly decisive, with two shoutouts and eight goals for: Amherst, 3-0, and Williams, 5-0.
Team tri-captain Carol McCrae ’81 started all 11 games as net minder, yielding a mere nine goals. Top scorer Barb Martin ’81, also a tri-captain, scored a team-leading 17 goals, more than half the team’s total of 30, and posted three hat tricks while scoring at least one goal in 10 of the 11 outings. Her only scoreless game came in a 0-0 deadlock at Smith College.
The Cardinals relied heavily on their 11 starters. During eight of the 11 games, no more than one player came off the bench to spell a first-stringer, a tribute to the team’s resilience and stamina.
The season finale against host Bridgeport was fittingly dramatic. Tied 0-0 after regulation, the game went into overtime and when the smoke cleared, Barb Martin had secured the win with her career-record 51st goal, and the Cardinals had put the finishing touches on a remarkable three-year run of 28-3-4.