PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The first home athletic event of the year at Plymouth State College will take place Wednesday (Sept. 5) when the Panther field hockey team debuts at Arold Field in the 2001 season opener.
The Panthers will host the University of Massachusetts Lowell in a non-conference contest at 4:00 p.m. PSC then hits the road for a weekend tournament at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., facing Springfield College Saturday (Sept. 8) at 1:30 p.m. and either Skidmore or rival Keene State at 10:00 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.
The defending Little East Conference champions, PSC will play a 16-game regular-season schedule, including 10 LEC contests. The Little East play-offs begin on Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, with the LEC Champion being crowned on Saturday, Oct. 27th, and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2001 PSC Field Hockey Outlook
Plymouth State had a highly successful season in 2000, putting together a 13-game winning streak, capturing the Little East Conference Championship, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and finishing with a 15-5 overall record. Second-year head coach Bonnie Lord says look for more of the same from PSC in 2001.
"Every coach hopes you can start the season picking up from where you left off the previous season," said Lord, the LEC Coach of the Year. "I feel this team has set very healthy goals for the season. They want to win the Little East again, return to the NCAA Championships, and move on in the tournament. I feel these are very realistic goals."
Lord welcomes back 15 veterans from last year's championship team, including nine starters and four All-Conference selections. She says experience and team unity will be the ingredients that will make up a successful team.
The Panthers will display one of the top midfield units in the region, as well as a stingy defense. Lord says the midfield is the glue, but the success starts from the goal cage out, and the coach is thrilled with the return of sophomore keeper Ellen Ward (Thorndike, Maine). A Regional All-American as a freshman, Ward posted an impressive 0.66 goals against average with nine shutouts.
"Ellen is the catalyst," said Lord. "The first offensive play on attack is when Ellen clears the ball. She is very keen with what's around her, and not much gets by her."
The Panthers also have four returning starters on defense - sophomore sweeper Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, N.H.) and juniors Kristle Wheeler (Brandon, Vt.), Marushka Eddy (Nantucket, Mass.) and Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.) As a unit they helped PSC allow only 10 goals over the final 17 games last season. Others challenging for starting roles on defense include senior Robin Hartman (Santa Maria, Cal.), sophomore Carmen Villanueva (East Schodack, N.Y.) and freshman Annie Metz (North Chelmsford, Mass.).
"They are a very talented group," said Lord. "They really know how to outlet the ball, utilize the passing lanes, and set the pace up the field."
PSC's dominant midfield section includes the senior trio of Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine), Sarah Lynch (Belgrade Lakes, Maine) and Danielle Cardin (South Hampton, N.H.). Fournier was a Regional All-American after scoring eight goals and six assists, and Lynch earned All-LEC honors. Cardin is a three-year starter.
"Megan's strength and confidence encompasses the whole team," said Lord. "Sarah brings heart and soul and a pure team concept, and Danielle is perhaps the most skilled player on the team. They have terrific game sense and see the field very well."
The offense is where PSC will have a different look, with the loss of seniors Kerri Tarpy and Courtney O'Sullivan, leaving several positions wide open. Top candidates include senior Sacha Jackson (Sangerville, Maine), who scored six goals last season, juniors Alicia Petrucci (East Bridgewater, Mass.) and Melanie McAvey (Grafton, Mass.), and senior Megan Wolfley (Maplewood, N.J.).
"The team chemistry we have off the field will mean as much as what we put on the field," said Lord. "Starting with our European tour we took over the summer and continuing through the pre-season and into the regular season, our team cohesiveness will be a key to our success."