Field Hockey Begins Preseason Practice Friday
Aug. 11, 2005
2004 turned out to be a tale of two seasons for the Minutewomen, but they look to carry second-half momentum into this year. UMass started off slowly, but bounced back to win seven of its final nine games. Both of those losses came to nationally ranked Richmond. The final one came in the A-10 Championship game played at Garber Field. UMass struggled offensively in the first 13 games, but bounced back to tally 18 goals in the last nine games. The Minutewomen posted an impressive 7-4 record in one-goal games, including a win in their last six one-goal games. They were 4-1 in overtime games. UMass will look to carry that momentum into the 2005 season and challenge for their 10th Atlantic 10 championship.
The Minutewomen will have to replace their top two scorers from last season on the forward line, but head coach Patty Shea thinks they can. The graduation of seniors Caitlin Beresin and Adrianne Monaco saw 27 points leave, but there are several players ready to step in.
"We have a lot of great depth within the forward line," said Shea. "There is a lot of speed up there and our forwards understand the principles of play. They have really bought into the system and will be able to put the ball in the net. We will see more goals from our forward line this year. We have several players who can be either forwards or midfielders which gives us a lot of flexibility within the two lines."
Sanders, a junior from Morgan Hill, Calif., is coming off surgery and is one of the players Shea thinks that she is ready to come back strong. She played in every game last year and tallied one goal and two assists.
"Gina is healthy again and we are looking for big things from her," said Shea. "She really has a nose for scoring and will be key to our success."
"Patricia has improved tremendously in her time here as well as her international experience," said Shea. "She is poised for a great senior year and her versatility will give us a great edge."
Racheal Mervine is another person who Shea is looking for big things this season. The sophomore out of Conway, Mass., scored one goal last year as a freshman.
"Racheal is an endless worker," said Shea. "She knows what she wants and is willing to do anything necessary to get it."
Elizabeth Andrews is another seasoned player. A redshirt junior from North Dighton, Mass., Andrews played in 11 games last year.
"Liz is the ultimate team player," said Shea. "She does everything that she is asked to. Her skill and athletic development has been tremendous and it is a great credit to her hard work and dedication to the team."
Erin Parker, a freshman out of the high school powerhouse Frontier Regional, is a player whom Shea thinks can step right in. Parker tallied 110 points in high school, the second-most all-time. She was a high school teammate of Mervine.
"Erin has great creativity on the field," said Shea. "She can really win the one-on-one and make things happen."
"All of those come from great high school programs and will challenge for time on the field," said Shea. All they are going to do is improve and make us a better team. They know what it takes to score and are a big reason why we are so deep at the forward position."
"Our midfield is very experienced and that is a huge positive," said Shea. "They have really bought in to what we are trying to do as a team and it is showing on the field. They come back with a lot of experience and a lot of growth. They feel good and can feel proactive on the field instead of reactive. Our midfielders have the confidence that they can control the tempo of the game."
Again, Borneo leads this list with her experience and versatility to play either on the midfield or forward lines.
Kristina DoRosario, a native of Oakville, Ontario, is a player who brings a great deal of collegiate experience. She sat out last season after transferring from the University of Toronto.
"Kristina is very experienced even though this will be her first season playing for UMass," said Shea. "She is a field general and will open up the game for more scoring chances."
Nicole Phelan, of North Andover, Mass., saw time in 19 games last year and registered one goal.
"Nicole has made a tremendous improvement from her freshman year," said Shea. "She will vie for a starting position. She has great vision of the field and athleticism."
Sophomore Kara Murphy looks to build on a solid second-half of last season now that she has a year under her belt. The Dedham, Mass., native played in 18 games, making 14 starts, and had two goals and one assist. Both her goals were game-winners, while her assist was for a game-winner. They all came in one week and she was named the national and Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for that.
"Kara is one of those players who looks like she is effortless on the field," said Shea. "She is a very smooth player who is always two or three players ahead of everyone else on the field. Kara has a tremendous insight into the game while a natural with the execution of her skills."
Leonard could also see some time in the midfield.
"We have players who have great game experience in the backfield," said Shea. "They have been in situations before where they have had to make decisions and execute under pressure. That will help us as we try to bring two young goalkeepers in and help them to relax. It's a real confident group that will only add to the goalkeeper's confidence."
Senior Katelyn Woolfrey will lead the backfield. Woolfrey is from Somerset, Mass., and finished second on the team with five assists while starting all 22 games.
"Kate has really developed in her four years here," said Shea. "She is one of the hardest workers on the team and an ultra-competitive player who will be the team leader in the backfield."
Jaime Bawden is another experienced senior who moves back into the backfield, a position she played in her first two seasons. After leading the team in scoring for her first two years, she was asked to play a more defensive role last year. Bawden had a stellar A-10 Tournament with three goals in the two games en route to All-Tournament team honors. The Penticton, British Columbia native was a member of the Canadian Junior National team which played in the World Cup Qualifier.
"Jaime is a very experienced player for us," said Shea. With three years under her belt and her internationally playing experience, Jaime is ready to lead us. Her ability to play back or come up offensively gives us great versatility in the midfield and backfield lines both offensively and defensively."
Kwylan Jaggassar is another experienced veteran who will help to anchor the defensive unit. The junior from Longdenville, Trinidad and Tobago is also the sister of assistant coach Kerry Ann Jaggassar. Last year, Jaggassar had one assist and started all 22 games for the Minutewomen in the backfield.
"Kwylan is a player with a great deal of international experience," said Shea. "That really helps her on the field. She is very quiet off the field, but once she steps between the lines it is all business. She is a very aggressive player with wonderful skills."
Paula Verma, a Sudbury, Mass., native played in 10 games last year. "Paula is one of several players who can play either in the midfield or the backfield," said Shea. "She will bring a lot of aggressiveness and competitiveness to the table wherever she plays on the field."
Erin O'Brien, a sophomore from Annandale, Va., will also be in the backfield mix. She played in 21 games last year, making 14 starts.
"Erin is another of our wonderful athletes who can run forever," said Shea. "Her skill improvement from last year will really add to her game. She brings a lot of defensive fortitude to the back line or the midfield. She is a very crafty player."
Tiffany Zolt, a freshman from Wilmington, Mass., will also see some time in the backfield.
"The goalkeepers will be real critical to our success this season," said Shea. We need them to save the savable shots and then clean up some of the mess from the scrambles in front of the goal. Even though both goalkeepers are young, our team has a lot of confidence in them. They want to make things happen on the field and that means they will take risks and be proactive."
The graduation of Christine Tocco opens up the door for a pair of UMass keepers to come in. Tocco was second in the nation in saves last year. Sophomore Becky Letourneau saw some playing time as a freshman last year, which will give her confidence heading into this season. The Greenfield, native compiled a 1.36 goals against average and a .833 save percentage in just over 100 minutes of action last year. She entered the game for the penalty stroke session last year leading UMass to wins on two occasions.
"Becky's quickness and sense of play-making ability will help us tremendously," said Shea. "She is a very creative goalkeeper and willing to challenge. She came up very big last year in several penalty stroke sessions and that will give her a lot of momentum heading into this year. Becky is one of the best athletes on the team in terms of her quickness and strength."
Heather Ryan, a junior from Lowell, Mass., is in her first year at UMass but will challenge Becky for the starting job. Left Lowell High School with school records in games played, wins and shutouts.
"Heather has a great ability and will definitely challenge Becky for the starting nod," said Shea. "Her basic skills are very solid and she really understands the game. She is willing to work endlessly to make herself better."
Last year was a textbook example of a team staying together and not losing their focus. The Minutewomen played in several close games and it really showed towards the end of the year when they started winning the one-goal games. Now, they look to carry that momentum into this season.
"We are still a young team," said Shea. "We really grew as a unit at the end of last season and all though the spring. There are many steps to go within the process, but overall I like the progress we have made in the last year. We played into the A-10 final last year, but this year we want to win that game and get back to the NCAA Tournament. The key turning point to last season was after that first A-10 game when we lost to West Chester after blowing a two-goal second half lead. We were able to bounce right back the next day and win a game in overtime. That was a testament to how hard we worked and we will now look to carry that into this season."
With the addition of Saint Louis to the Atlantic 10, it makes getting to the tournament a little bit harder as just four teams will advance to Temple's Geasey Field the first weekend of November for the A-10 Championship. UMass' schedule begins with a tour of New England, as 11 of its 12 non-conference games will be against teams from the area. Syracuse will be the only non-conference opponent from outside of New England.
UMass will jump right into the A-10 slate with a tough opening weekend road trip to three-time defending champion Richmond and Saint Louis in October. The schedule also features road contests at Temple, Saint Joseph's and Rhode Island as well as home dates with La Salle and West Chester.
"We have a very balanced schedule this year," said Shea. "We have many traditional games locked in and will play some very good, experienced teams from the region. Playing five league road games will be a great challenge for such a young team, but I think we will be up to the challenge."
The five league road games will prove to be the deciding factor for the conference chase, but if the second half of last year is any indication then the Minutewomen will be just fine. UMass finished last year with three straight road wins, all one-goal games. That marked the longest road-winning streak since the 2001 season. UMass overall five-game winning streak last year was also the longest streak since that 2001 season.
Shea likes the Minutewomen's chances to get back to the A-10 title game and contend for its league-high 10th crown.
"We proved last year that we can win," said Shea' "It gave our young players a sense of enjoyment and they started playing to win and not to lose. That spearheaded us and now we are going to take that momentum into this season. The growth in our skill level has been amazing and we know that we can go out and win. We still have a long way to go, but the I am very excited for this year and think that we have the opportunity to be very successful."
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