PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Many of the student-athletes are the same as last season, but there will be a new coaching staff on the sideline when the Plymouth State College field hockey team makes its 2000 debut with three non-conference road games in the next week.
The Panthers open the season Wednesday, Sept. 6, with a 4 p.m. encounter at UMass Lowell. After additional games at Springfield on Saturday, Sept. 9, and Colby on Tuesday, Sept. 12, PSC returns to Plymouth for the home opener at Arold Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, against Little East Conference rival UMass Dartmouth (1 p.m.)
The opener at UMass Lowell will mark the debut of interim head coach Bonnie Lord and her assistant Janis Hackett. Lord comes to PSC after a highly-successful 20-year career coaching field hockey at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, N.H. She replaces Abby Burbank, who last month became the women's lacrosse coach at the University of Denver.
In addition to the arrival of Coach Lord, there's another change this season. PSC will compete in a league that combines five Little East Conference and six Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference schools, with the overall conference champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers were picked third out of 11 in the Coaches Pre-Season poll.
"I'm looking forward to stepping on the field," said Lord. "I've been coaching field hockey a long time, so I don't think the transition will be any problem. A lot of the kids knew of me or knew my name, and I knew several of them, whether I saw them play in high school or the Futures Program."
Lord is hoping to guide PSC back to the post-season, a place they haven't been since making five straight appearances from 1993-97.
2000 P.S.C. Field Hockey Outlook
Lord inherits a squad that returns as many as 20 veterans from last year's team, which finished with a 7-11 overall record. PSC dropped several close contests last season, and Lord hopes to help turn those verdicts into victories.
"We were fortunate to be successful all those years (at Kingswood)," said Lord, "and I'm expecting a successful season here at Plymouth State. I'm a winner, and I motivate my teams to be the same."
The Panther offense should have plenty of firepower, despite the loss of two-time leading scorer Jill Sutherland, who graduated. Senior Courtney O'Sullivan (East Kingston, NH) and juniors Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine) and Robin Hartman (Santa Maria, Cal.) are the likely starters. Fournier tallied two goals and four assists and led the team in shots last season, while O'Sullivan and Hartman are new to the starting line-up. Freshman Andrea Musante (Amherst, Mass.) looks the strongest among the newcomers, and provides offense off the bench.
Junior Sacha Jackson (Sangerville, Maine), the leading returning scorer from last season, will lead the cast of midfielders. She scored five goals and two assists as a starting forward last fall. Classmates Danielle Cardin (Southampton, NH) and Sarah Lynch (Belgrade Lakes, Maine) have impressed the coaching staff, and should see regular action. Senior tri-captains Ang Grady (Medway, Mass.) and Kara Borden (Taunton, Mass.) could also log time in the midfield.
The duo of senior backs Tracy Noyes (Plymouth, NH) and tri-captain Kerri Tarpy (Biddeford, Maine), a pair of three-year starters, gives PSC a solid anchor to the defensive unit. Each registered eight defensive saves last season, and should be strong again this fall. Classmate Jaci Harradon (Yarmouth, Maine) is also a returning starter, and will be joined in the starting line-up by freshman sweeper Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, NH). Sophomore Kristle Wheeler (Brandon, Vt.) and senior Michele Morch (Southampton, NY) gives PSC veteran defenders off the bench.
The goaltending department returns both keepers from last season, junior Marti Dennerly (Concord, N.H.) and sophomore Lindsey Breda (Londonderry, N.H.) Dennerly has shown much improvement, and has the early nod for the starter's job.