PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University field hockey team will start the 2009 season right where it ended the 2008 campaign, at Endicott College.
The Panthers will be looking for a different outcome this time around, as Endicott held on for a 1-0 victory in last year's ECAC New England Tournament championship game. PSU also dropped a 4-2 decision to the Gulls in last year's season opener, but finished the season with a 15-8 overall record.
Plymouth State will host Castleton State College next Wednesday, Sept. 9, in the home opener at Arold Field, and the first Little East Conference contest is Saturday, Sept. 12, at Salem State College.
Led by veteran head coach Bonnie Lord (right), the Panthers will also be seeking their ninth post-season berth in 10 seasons. PSU tied for second place in the LEC last year and advanced to the title game of both the Little East and ECAC Tournaments.
Winning has been the standard for Plymouth State field hockey since Lord took over as head coach in 2000, as the Panthers have combined for a 123-55 overall record. PSU won three straight LEC Championships earlier this decade and went to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, and has played in the ECAC Tournament five of the last six years.
PSU will play a 17-game regular-season slate in 2009, including 11 LEC contests. Eight of the 12 teams advance to the conference tournament the first week in November, with the champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2009 PSU Field Hockey Outlook
The Panthers have 16 returning veterans on their roster of 20, including nine starters and four All-Conference performers. Coach Lord believes that the experience and depth of this year's squad could lead to an exciting season.
"We're really pleased to have such a large number of experienced returnees," said Lord. "We have a great deal of both experience and balance. We're ready to take the next step after making the final of both tournaments last year."
All four starters return to the Panther defense, which allowed only 33 goals in 23 games last year, along with both goalies. Lord says the Panthers will continue their tradition of fielding outstanding defensive units.
"Defense certainly continues to be one of our strong points," said Lord, "but we also have returning strength in the midfield and forward this year. We have seven seniors who've been together for a long time, and they're really licking their chops for a chance at winning the LEC."
Senior co-captains Cortney Colligan (Brookfield, NH/Kingswood), Melinda Rozumek (Salem, N.H.) and Lindsey Hiltz (Manchester, N.H./West) are joined by sophomore Brittany Treichel (Clinton, Conn./Morgan School) as returning starters on defense. Colligan and Rozumek are four-year starters and both earned All-LEC honors a year ago; Hiltz is a three-year starter and Treichel started 21 games as a freshman last year.
"That's a nice group to backbone the team, and they've been together a long time," said Lord. "Cortney and Melinda are outstanding players, but also great leaders. They've really brought the team together."
Sophomore goalkeeper Elyse Sedgley (Hopkinton, N.H./Hopkinton) returns after a solid rookie season in the Panther cage. She posted six shutouts and a 1.38 goals against average and should hold down the fort again this season. Freshman Hannah Sawyer (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) and sophomore Sam Reuss (Chapel Hill, N.C./Durham Academy/Tilton School-N.H.) are also capable goalies and can fill in when called upon.
Seniors Morgan Lemmon (Gilford, N.H./Bishop Brady) and Kerry D'Ambroise (Lowell, Mass.), a pair of former team scoring leaders, head a solid midfield contingent for the Panthers. Lemmon is a four-year starter who led the team in scoring in 2006 and earned All-Conference honors a year ago, while D'Ambroise topped the team in scoring in 2007. Lemmon has 16 career goals and D'Ambroise 14. Sophomore Lauren Bergeron (New Hampton, N.H./Newfound) and juniors Betsy Renauld (Penacook, N.H./Merrimack Valley), Courtney McLaughlin (Bellingham, Mass.) and Lauren Plummer (Monument Beach, Mass./Bourne) are also veteran players who will all see plenty of playing time.
The Panther offense will be without Ashley Gutowski, a senior who was All-Conference and All-New England last year, but senior co-captain Sarah Smith (Lexington, Mass.) returns to anchor the unit. Smith was a First Team All-Conference pick last year after leading PSU with 17 goals. Junior Kristina Conroy (Wakefield, Mass.) also returns after scoring 13 goals a year ago, and senior Sammi Romano (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) is back after tallying six goals as a rookie last season. Sophomore Christina Parisi (Hampton Falls, N.H./Winnacunnet) could also provide offense off the bench.
Coach Lord says the Panthers have solid newcomers in sophomore transfer midfielder Erin Norris (Hilton, N.Y./Hilton Central), freshman midfielder Olivia Colborn (Lancaster, N.H./White Mountains Regional) and freshman defender Molly Saunders (Center Conway, N.H./Kennett).
"Our goal is to be Little East Conference champions," said Coach Lord. "These kids are hungry for a championship. They were denied last year and they don't want to be denied again."
-- 30 --