Field Hockey | Jumbos look to avenge 2011 season opener at Middlebury
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 07:09
One year ago, the field hockey team fell to Middlebury on penalty strokes in its opening match of the season. The loss began a tumultuous year for the team, which finished with its worst record since 2007.
This Saturday, the Jumbos will try to avenge that 3-2 loss when they begin their 2012 season at the Panthers.
For weeks now, coach Tina McDavitt has been working to sculpt her team, and the Jumbos have pushed through long practices since preseason training began on Aug. 27.
“Our training schedule has consisted of two-a-days for a full week, and we have really been working at solidifying our diamond defense formation,” junior goalkeeper Katie Stuntz said.
“We really worked on strengthening our basic skills and perfecting the different formations and plays that our incoming class didn’t know yet,” freshman Hannah Park added.
Their motivation through all of the heat and sweat is a singular goal: a trip back to the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Jumbos finished 11-4, losing 2-1 to Trinity in a heartbreaking double overtime NESCAC quarterfinal matchup. The Jumbos were not granted an NCAA bid just a year removed from making the second round of the NCAA tournament. This season, they want to be back among the list of selections, and they want to go deep in the tournament.
The Jumbos graduated four seniors this past spring, including co-captains Taylor Dyer (LA ’12) and Lindsay Griffith (LA ’12). But Dyer will return this fall as an assistant coach to help the team’s returning players mold eight new freshmen into capable players who fit seamlessly into the Jumbos’ playing style.
“It’s great to have Taylor back as an assistant coach,” Stuntz said. “She is so passionate about field hockey and genuinely understands all that a Tufts field hockey player has to go through to be great. It’s great to have a coach that was in your shoes not that long ago.”
The Jumbos certainly have a lot of work ahead – Dyer collected several accolades in her four-year Tufts career, including three straight All-NESCAC first team honors, and both co-captains were named to the Longstreth/NFHCA All-Region first team last season. In 2010, Dyer was named the NESCAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, while leading the Jumbos to a low .95 goals against average in her senior campaign. Meanwhile, Griffith led the Jumbos in scoring, notching 23 points and two game-winning goals, both in NESCAC contests.
At the defensive end, the Jumbos return senior Liza Wetzel, who started all 15 games last season, anchoring the squad in the back. Wetzel, who had three years to work with and learn from Dyer, will lead a crew of young players in defending the cage.
“It’s very exciting to have so many talented freshmen with so much potential, but we graduated two of our starting defenders in Taylor and Sarah [Cannon (LA ’12)] so we’ll probably have a completely new defensive starting line-up,” Stuntz said. “A lot of the underclassmen have stepped up and improved so much during the off season, so it will be exciting to watch them thrive in their new positions.”
Junior Katie Stuntz will stand tall between the pipes, where she will replace Marianna Zak (E ’12), a four-year starter in the cage. In the last two seasons, Stuntz has gained valuable in-game experience, starting one game and playing in two this past season. As a sophomore, she didn’t allow a single goal in 105 minutes of play.
Senior Lia Sagerman will lead the Jumbos’ offense this season, and, as a captain, Sagerman will set the tone for the team on and off the field. In 2011, the forward was named to the All-NESCAC second team and scored 10 goals and an assist to finish the season with 21 points, ranking among the conference’s top 15 scorers. Sagerman notched two multi-goal performances and finished the season with seven goals in NESCAC play.
Senior Kelsey Perkins and junior Chelsea Yogerst will accompany Sagerman on the offensive end. This past fall, the two were among the Jumbos’ top five scorers, combining for 15 goals and four assists.
“The returners have been so welcoming and helpful,” Park said. “They are always there for us when we need help with anything, and Lia and [senior co-captain Rachel Gerhardt] are skillful players on the field. They help push us and are always working to improve our skills as a team, explaining different defensive formations and scenarios like corners.”