DURHAM, N.H. – The 2010 University of New Hampshire field hockey team looks to build from the foundation established last season, when the Wildcats recorded 12 wins – the team's highest single-season total since 2002 – and that included two victories against nationally-ranked teams.
A total of 11 letterwinners, including seven starters (two NFHCA Northeast Region selections as well as three America East All-Conference team honorees), and two redshirt athletes return this year. The Wildcats also welcome a total of 10 freshmen – three of whom were named to a 2009 NFHCA All-Region team.
"I am anxious for the start of the 2010 season coming off a very good spring season," 20th year head coach Robin Balducci said. "There was a lot of quality to our play this spring. We have enhanced our schedule yet again particularly early in September. This will certainly give us a sense of where we are right from the opening weeks of the season.
"We are really excited about the quality in this year's freshman class," Balducci added. "A lot of talent, good leadership and a strong freshman class we hope will lead to a very successful 2010 fall."
In 2008, a UNH Wildcat senior was named the America East Offensive Player of the Year. Another UNH Wildcat senior received that honor in 2009, when the 'Cats recorded a school-record 170 points. New Hampshire looks to juniors Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) and Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) to fuel a high-powered offense in the 2010 season.
Frates garnered NFHCA Northeast Region First Team and America East All-Conference First Team accolades a year ago when she recorded 29 points (10 goals, nine assists) to tie for the team lead in assists and rank second in both goals and points. With those numbers, Frates ranked third in the conference in assists per game, fourth in points per game and fifth in goals per game. She also ranked second on the team in shots and third in shooting percentage. Frates looks to continue her consistent point production from '09, when she recorded a point in 12 of 18 regular-season games.
Rausch tallied 23 points (eight goals, seven assists) last season to rank third on the team in both goals and points as well as fifth in assists; furthermore, she tied for third in shots and was fourth in shooting percentage. On the America East leaderboard, Rausch ranked sixth in goals per game and seventh in points per game. Rausch also looks to repeat her reliable point output from last season, when she had a point in 10 of 18 regular-season games.
The sophomore trio of Clare Becker (Chevy Chase, Md.), Shayna Duffy (Dover, N.H.) and Mary Quill (Portsmouth, N.H.) saw limited action in 2009. Becker and Duffy both played in two games, while Quill saw action in three games and recorded two points (one goal).
Four incoming players – Meg Callanan (Lititz, Pa.), Mackenzie Joyce (South Pomfret, Vt.), Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) and Tori Welch (East Hampstead, N.H.) – give the 'Cats depth. Richard and Welch both hail from the Granite State, and both were All-State First Team selections last year; Welch was further distinguished as an NFHCA Regional All-America Team honoree. Joyce led Kimball Union Academy to three consecutive league championships; she recorded totals of 46 goals and 22 assists in those three years.
Kara Connolly (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), the lone senior on the squad, heads the groud of midfielders. Connolly played an increasingly larger role each of her first three seasons and in 2009 she parlayed starting time as well as a spot on the offensive penalty corner unit into an America East All-Conference Second Team selection. Connolly tied for third on the team in assists with eight and also scored one goal to finish with a total of 10 points. In addition to her offensive contributions, Connolly was one of three 'Cats credited with a defensive save.
Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.) is an underclassman, but she brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the midfield. As a freshman in 2009, she helped UNH dictate game tempo and also contributed five points (two goals, one assist) en route to being named to the America East All-Rookie Team.
Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) saw increased playing time through her 2009 freshman season. She played in half of the first 10 games of the season, then saw playing time in six of the last eight regular-season games.
Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), Ailish Fitzgerald (Lexington, Mass.), Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) and Meg Williamson (Cos Cob, Conn.) look to earn playing time in their rookie year. Bozek was an All-America Second Team selection as a junior and senior at Lakeland High School. She recorded 19 goals and 24 assists as a senior in 2009, when she led Lakeland to the section, region and state championship titles; Bozek compiled 41 goals and 48 assists in three years. Fitzgerald was a three-time Middlesex All-Star who tallied 17 goals and 24 assists as a senior in '09. Pohlmeyer, who is once again teammates with former Severna Park High School standout Hayley Rausch, earned NFHCA All-Region and All-State accolades last season. Williamson started every game at Greenwich High School and led the Cardinals to the 2009 state championship title.
Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.) has two years of starting experience for the Wildcats and will be the leader of this year's defensive unit in addition to being a vital part of the defensive penalty corner unit. She was selected to the 2008 America East All-Rookie Team and followed that with All-Conference Second Team honors in '09; she was also named to the NFHCA Northeast Region Second Team last year as a sophomore.
Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.) is another junior who has seen significant playing time donning the Blue and White. After being an integral part of the defensive rotation off the bench as a freshman in '08, Lyons stepped into a starting role last year. She also contributed to the offense as a member of that penalty corner unit and finished the 2009 season with seven points (two goals, three assists).
Jess Sweeney (Accord, N.Y.) joined the UNH program last year after spending the 2008 season at Hofstra University. She and Claire Grogan (Canton, Mass.), who redshirted the 2009 season after joining the team as a walk on, add depth to the rotation, as does incoming freshman Katie Walborn (Selinsgrove, Pa.).
Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) is now an experienced veteran goalkeeper following a 2009 sophomore season in which she played all 1359 minutes, 22 seconds in goal, and her 12 wins were the most by a Wildcat since the 2002 season. Nagengast recorded four shutouts in addition to a 2.32 GAA and .679 save percentage; in America East league action, both the goals-against-average (2.00) and save percentage (.706) improved from the overall numbers. In the last four games of the regular season, Nagengast had a 1.71 GAA and .767 save percentage; extending back to the last eight regular-season games, she went 7-1 with a 1.43 GAA and .786 save percentage.
Renee Bernier (Wolfeboro, N.H.) is another Granite State native on the New Hampshire roster, and she garnered All-State accolades in her junior and senior years at Kingswood Regional High School.
New Hampshire's 19-game schedule includes 10 home games, including the season-opening Wildcat Invitational at Memorial Field. UNH welcomes the University of Delaware, Lock Haven and the University of Vermont to Durham for the Wildcat Invitational on Aug. 28-29. The Wildcats play Lock Haven on opening day and conclude the tourney vs. Delaware. Action begins each day at 11 a.m. and both UNH games are at 2:30 p.m.