PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University field hockey team, coming off an ECAC New England championship at the end of last season, will make its 2005 debut with a pair of non-conference home games, beginning this Saturday at Arold Field.
The Panthers will host Thomas College Saturday (Sept. 3) at 12:30 p.m. in the opener, and then entertain Castleton State Wednesday (Sept. 7) at 4:00 p.m. PSU finished 18-4 overall last fall, setting a program record for wins in a season. The Panthers were 8-2 in Little East Conference games, and are 45-5 against LEC opponents in the last five years, with three straight championships from 2000-02. PSU has been upset in the LEC Tournament the past two years.
Winning has been the standard for Plymouth State field hockey
since Bonnie Lord (right) took over as
head coach in 2000. The Panthers have combined for a 77-23 overall
record and have been to the post-season five straight times (NCAA
from 2000-02 and ECAC in 2003 and 2004, winning the championship in
Included in PSU's 17-game regular-season slate are 11 LEC contests. The conference tournament is on tap for the first week in November, with the champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"It's an old saying, but we don't rebuild, we just reload," says Lord. "We return a very solid group of players. Our defense, which was young last season, is now a year older and a year better. Our returning players accounted for 57 goals last year, and we should also have a good group of newcomers who will contribute. We will remain as strong on defense as we've been in the past."
Sophomores Katie Randall (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Leah Curtin (Londonderry, N.H.) are PSU's returning keepers. Randall started every game last year, posting a 1.34 goals against average, and Curtin was solid in limited reserve action.
"Katie gained a lot of valuable experience last year when she was kind of thrown into the fire," says Lord. "We look for her to have another strong season, and Leah has continued to improve. We build from the goal cage out."
LEC Defensive Player of the Year Annie Metz has graduated from PSU's back line, but several others return to form a formidable defensive unit. Senior Kara Parent (Hampton, N.H./ Winnacunnet) and junior Laurie Allinson (Berwick, Maine/Noble) are returning starters, and should help the Panthers continue as the stingiest defense in the LEC. Junior Heather Corrigan (West Hartford, Conn./Hall) also has experience and could step into a starting role, while sophomores Holly Winchell (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane), Katie Barany (Middlesex, Vt./U-32) and Rachel Kirschner (Burlington, Conn./Lewis S. Mills) provide depth off the bench.
Senior Melanie Dixon (Mattapoisett, Mass./Old Rochester Regional), junior Christina Farias (East Dennis, Mass.) and sophomore Heidi Hand (Portsmouth, N.H.) return to lead the midfield unit. They are an experienced group that is interchangeable in positions on the field, according to Lord. "These three can play anywhere, and they know each other very well. Farias and Dixon in particular have a confident, veteran presence."
Senior Lilly Silva (Lowell, Mass.) returns to anchor the offense. Silva scored 27 goals last season, second-most in school history, and is already tied for PSU's all-time scoring lead. She will be supported by junior Melanie Bates (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton), who has scored 19 goals in her first two seasons. Seniors Katie Kovacs (Hampton, N.H./ Winnacunnet) and Morgan Butters (Stow, Maine/Fryeburg Academy) and junior Amanda Spadafora (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) will all compete for playing time at forward.
"Winning the Little East is absolutely our goal,' says Lord. "Winning the ECAC last year was nice, and we're proud of it, but we want to win our conference and go to the NCAA Tournament."
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