Hannah Keefe strikes chord with UMass Lowell field hockey – Lowell Sun
Whether she’s swinging a field hockey stick or strumming her Ukulele, Hannah Keefe has always found a way to hit the right notes.
The Westford resident and UMass Lowell senior is holding her ground as a midfielder with the River Hawks field hockey team. Fresh off a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart, the Hawks are currently sporting a 6-3 overall record heading into the halfway point of the season. And despite hitting a small conference speedbump in a 3-1 loss to the University of New Hampshire (Oct. 1), the team is bound and determined to improve its game.
“Overall, I’m happy with how we’ve been going,” said Keefe, whose team travels to Monmouth, Friday, Oct. 8. “Our team mentality going into Friday’s game is as a must-win. We know what we need to do, learning from our loss against UNH, and being able to make some changes to really get off on the right foot against Monmouth on their home field.”
“We’re staying focused,” she added. “We just need to put the pieces together.”
If their most recent win against Sacred Heart was any indication, Keefe and company are already fired up. The senior midfielder netted a pair of goals to help propel UMass Lowell to a 3-1 victory in the non-conference tilt, Oct. 3. It marked her first multi-goal game of her collegiate career.
“I haven’t had a game like that before, so it was pretty exciting,” said Keefe. “It felt good just to be able to capitalize on a few situations. I’ve been knocking at the door a few times in different games, but I also got a lot of help.”
Locked in a scoreless contest, the River Hawks struck in the 23rd minute, while on a two-on-one advantage. Heading into the circle, junior Katie Miller sent a short pass ahead to Keefe, who finished with a sliding tip in.
“That was just about finishing the play fully,” said Keefe, noting Miller’s brilliant playmaking.
Keefe added an insurance marker in the 54th minute, redirecting a pass from sophomore Mirthe Gans, during a corner.
“We really try to work hard to capitalize on those situations,” Keefe said. “Sometimes it’s just right place, right time, executing set pieces that really allow us to come out with a win.”
Born and raised in Westford, Hannah Keefe first picked up the field hockey stick as a seventh grader, however, the Flagg Road resident really didn’t try out for the varsity until her junior year.
“I was a little bit of a late bloomer on the club side of field hockey,” said Keefe, who was preoccupied skating for the Westford girls hockey team. “I played ice hockey my whole life. I loved the speed of it. I started playing field hockey as more of a natural transition.”
A two-time Dual County League All-Star in both sports, she scored a bronze medal with the U16 girls hockey team her junior year.
Meanwhile, she also excelled in the field hockey arena, leading the Grey Ghosts in scoring her senior season.
“We had such a young program,” said Keefe, noting how she wished her hometown had a bigger youth program to develop talent. “My best friends were on the team. We weren’t always the most talented, but we had a lot of fun and a lot of team chemistry. I think junior year we finally beat Acton-Boxboro for the first time in eight years, so that was a highlight.”
Faced with graduation, Keefe knew she had a decision to make as she approached the collegiate ranks.
“It just came down to which one I could play in college,” Keefe said. “Field hockey was more of an opportunity. Both are my two loves, but it was a quick decision.”
After sitting on the bench her freshman year, Keefe appeared in 10 games as a sophomore recording two goals and four points, including her first collegiate goal at Northwestern, Sept. 15, 2019. She played in 12 more games for the River Hawks her junior year, including seven starts, while registering a pair of goals to finish with four points.
“My first two years was really a growing period,” said Keefe. “I didn’t get a lot of playing time, but I took a lot of time to work in practice and learn from my teammates and coaching staff. Once the skill and speed caught up to my mind, it’s been pretty seamless.”
Now a senior, Keefe is already establishing season highs in all statistical categories, scoring four goals and nine points in her first nine games.
When she’s not patrolling midfield, Keefe can be found staying in tune playing her Ukulele. She first picked up the instrument as part of a musical elective she took while attending Westford Academy.
“I really like it,” said Keefe. “I got gifted one as my Senior Day present in field hockey. One of my teammates got it for me, and I still have it. I still fiddle around with it.”
Although mostly associated with Hawaiian crooner Don Ho, the unique tone of the Ukulele has recently found its way into the rock realm. Todd Kerns, bassist for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators frequently plays it during his solo acoustic shows, covering various tunes such as Cyndi Lauper’s signature ballad ‘Time After Time,’ to even Guns ‘N Roses epics like ‘November Rain.’
According to Keefe, the Ukulele can work in virtually any musical landscape.
“It’s relaxing,” she said. “I can really play almost anything, it’s just a question of figuring out the chords. It’s fun playing whatever comes to mind, but I don’t really have a go-to tune.”
As for the field hockey team, Keefe is still playing it by ear.
“I really want to make the America East Conference and see how far we can get from there,” she said. “If we can win that and get our first NCAA bid in Division 1, I would take that any day. I think it’s a possibility. It’s a testament to our hard work. We have to get to the East Conference first, so we have to get through this game on Friday with Monmouth and keep that positive mentality going. That’s our goal.”
And that would certainly be music to Hannah Keefe’s ears.