Panthers have high expectations for 2017
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University field hockey team was selected third by the Little East Conference (LEC) head coaches in the 2017 Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the LEC office.
Keene State, the four-time defending champions, were the preseason favorites by a narrow margin over Worcester State. The Owls accrued five first place votes and 110 points, with the Lancers taking home six first place votes and 108 points. PSU scored the final first place vote to finish with 101 points.
The Panthers are looking to improve on last year's 11-6 (7-4 LEC) mark, which included a slim 4-2 loss at Keene State in the conference semifinals.
"Strong leadership takes us into 2017," said head coach Bonnie Lord. "Senior captains Alivia Bates (Pennsauken, N.J.), Lily Davis (Boscawen, N.H.) and Katie Martin (Waterbury Center, Vt.) are motivated, committed and focused to make a full-out charge in the LEC."
Lord, who has guided the program to 16 winning seasons in 17 years, expects the defense to be the team's strength in 2017. Bates will protect the goal after posting an impressive 1.78 goals against average last fall. "Liv is determined and disciplined in keeping her house clean," said Lord. "She always provides an exciting and energizing performance as one of the top keepers in the LEC."
Junior Patty Newhard (South Dennis, Mass.) will return at sweep, with sophomore Kylie Ham (Wayland, Mass.) and newcomer Laura Secone (Harpswell, Maine) joining sophomore Kate McPherson (Conway, N.H.) at point. "This defensive unit has the potential to be one of the top defenses in the LEC this season," Lord added.
Martin, an All-LEC Second Team honoree last fall, will direct the midfield, along with sophomore Georgia Drew (Portland, Maine) and one of either sophomore Keeley Bartolini (Topsham, Maine) or freshman Olivia Geisser (Lowell, Mass.). Martin's 10 goals were second most on the team last fall, and her six assists were a team-high.
The forward line will feature Davis and sophomore Maddie Kabasakalian (Kent, Conn.) with freshman Haley Wakefield (South Paris, Maine), Kaihley Rafferty (Salem, Conn.) and Grace Montgomery (Boscawen, N.H.) all competing for time.
The Panthers kick off 2017 with a pair of games at the Caryl Newhof Classic at Smith College. PSU opens with the host Pioneers on Saturday, Sept. 2, with a second game set for Sunday (opponent and time to be determined). The team opens its home slate with LEC foe Eastern Connecticut State on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at the New Hampton School turf field (7:00 p.m.).
"We look forward to playing great team hockey with up field movement, strong passing, a staunch defense, quick attack and a transition midfield that executes and excited with their playmaking," said Lord. "Our number one team goal is to win the LEC by playing hard, playing fair, playing to win and most of all by playing together."
The top eight teams in the final regular season standings will participate in the 2017 LEC Field Hockey Championship with the champion earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
2017 LEC Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll
(First Place Votes in Parentheses)
|1.||Keene State (5)||110 points|
|2.||Worcester State (6)||108 points|
|3.||Plymouth State (1)||101 points|
|4.||Bridgewater State||81 points|
|5.||Fitchburg State||68 points|
|6.||Southern Maine||65 points|
|7.||Eastern Connecticut State||62 points|
|Westfield State||62 points|
|9.||UMass Dartmouth||56 points|
|10.||Western Connecticut State||45 points|
|11.||Salem State||18 points|
|12.||Framingham State||16 points|
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