The minute Matt Kolojejchick showed up in Rio to watch his sister play, her United States women’s field hockey team lost its first game of the Olympics.
Did the Larksville native bring a jinx with him to Brazil?
“Haha, the other field hockey families jokingly said the same,” Matt Kolojejchick, a former football standout for Wyoming Valley West and then the University of North Carolina, said in an email. “I responded by saying I came and brought the eye of the tiger.
“Sometimes you learn more from a loss than a win and I believe (Saturday’s) game was a testament.”
Team USA hopes so.
Their steak of four straight victories to open the Olympics was halted suddenly when Great Britain scored twice over the final eight minutes Saturday to pull out a 2-1 victory and earn the Group B title and top seed for the playoff week.
Now, former Wyoming Seminary stars Kelsey Kolojejchick, Kat Sharkey and the rest of Team USA will try to recover from that stinging defeat in time for Monday’s 11:30 a.m. Olympic quarterfinal game against Germany, which went 2-1-1 in Group A preliminary play.
“Monday’s game is a new season for them and is the game that really matters,” Doreen Kolojejchick, Kelsey’s mom, said in an email. “This loss has motivated them.
“Kelsey is more determined than ever!”
Both Kolojejchick and Sharkey started in an especially physical field hockey game that resulted in a 2-1 loss to Great Britain and dropped the USA to 4-1 overall and into the No. 2 seeding heading into elimination week.
But the result hardly hampered their ultimate goal — to bring home the nation’s first women’s field hockey Olympic medal since the United States captured a bronze by winning two games in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics that fielded just six teams.
“I think they have a shot,” said Harveys Lake resident Marge Garinger, a manager for that 1984 USA Olympic team who recently retired after spending more than 60 years as an official on the Northeastern Pennsylvania, collegiate, national and international levels. “They just have to keep going. They have to keep their minds straight.”
No problem there, according to Matt Kolojejchick, who Kelsey credited with playing a major role as part of her support system through their much younger years to now.
“Of course no one wants to lose,” Matt Kolojejchick emailed, “but if you were going to, (Saturday) was the best time to do it, as it only dropped them to a number two seeding. More importantly, (Saturday) showcased some areas of improvement the team will have to fix before heading into tomorrow game. Most importantly, it lighted a fire in my sister and her team.
“They will use this loss as motivation and come back stronger than they were before.”
Team USA says count on it.
“Focus has already shifted to our semifinal game,” Sharkey said through a USA field hockey spokesperson. “Obviously, a loss is going to fuel us and we’re going to come out with even more intensity on Monday.”