Panthers hoping to contend for title in 2012
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Another exciting season for the Plymouth State University field hockey team begins this weekend when the Panthers travel to Springfield, Massachusetts for the Zenaty Invitational, hosted by Springfield College.
Plymouth State will meet Brockport State (N.Y.) in Saturday's 1:00 p.m. contest, following the Springfield vs. St. John Fisher match-up at 11:00 a.m. The consolation game is set for 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, with the championship match slated for 1:00 p.m.
|Head Coach Bonnie Lord|
PSU will play its Little East Conference opener the following Saturday, Sept. 8, at Western Connecticut State University. After an annual in-state battle at New England College on Sept. 11, the Panthers play their home opener at Arold Field on Saturday, Sept. 15, vs. Worcester State University.
Led by veteran head coach Bonnie Lord, the Panthers are coming off a season which included an 18-4 record that matched the program standard for wins in a season. PSU was 10-1 in LEC regular season games and went on to finish runner-up in both the LEC and ECAC New England 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 167-75 overall mark with winning records and post-season berths in 11 out of 12 seasons.
PSU will play a 17-game regular-season slate in 2012, 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.
2012 PSU Field Hockey Outlook
Hopes are high for PSU this fall as the Panthers aim for a conference championship. Coach Lord says the team has five key returnees that will backbone the team, and a strong group of newcomers, which could include as many as six new starters.
"I'm very impressed with what I've seen," said Coach Lord after the first few days of pre-season camp. "They all came in strong both physically and mentally. They are a very focused, hard-working group and we've all been on the same wavelength. You always wonder how the freshmen will blend in, but they've been a nice complement to the student-athletes we already have."
Defense has been the strong point under Coach Lord for many years, and this year should continue that trend. Backboning the defensive unit are junior goalie Hilary Lemelin (Milan, N.H./Berlin) and junior defender Aisha Rai Thompson (Berlin, N.H./Berlin). Former high school teammates, the two have been playing together for years and are both strong leaders. Lemelin was a Second Team All-Conference pick in 2011 while Thompson was a First Team choice.
"Hilary does a great job controlling the goal area," said Lord, " and Aisha Rai is an outstanding player. She does an excellent job leading the defensive unit."
Top candidates to join Lemelin and Thompson in the back are freshmen Allison Dorey (Bristol, N.H./Newfound Regional), Eileen Crutchfield (Boscawen, N.H./Merrimack Valley) and Erin Kelley (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South).
PSU also has two returning All-Conference players at forward, junior Jackie Morin (Scarborough, Maine) and senior Olivia Colborn (Lancaster, N.H./White Mountains Regional). Morin was a First Team selection after scoring 17 goals and adding six assists, while Colborn was voted to the Second Team after a 15-goal, 5-assist campaign. Freshman Leah Kenison-Marvin (Center Tuftonboro, N.H./Kingswood) is also looking strong in preseason.
"We feel pretty good about our offense, with two of the top returning scorers in the LEC," said Lord, "and we think Leah can be big for us as well."
The Panthers have sophomore Nikki Garvey (Canaan, N.H./Mascoma) to lead the midfield group. She was one of the top rookies in the LEC last year when she scored 13 goals. Two newcomers have been impressive in sophomore transfer Sam Carberry (Shrewsbury, Pa./ Susquehannock) and sophomore Tayla Corrado (Saugus, Mass./Saugus), according to Lord. Junior Lauren Carroll (Rollinsford, N.H./Somersworth) will be in the mix, and freshman Morgan Oullette-Foss (Dayton, Maine/Thornton Academy) and Lauren Rogers (Windham, N.H./Windham) could also contribute.
"We lost several starters from last year, but the core remains strong," said Lord. "With this group, it's how fast our younger players can grow. This is the type of group that could do some big things."
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