1996 Season Outlook
The success of the 1996 BC field hockey team will come down to goals.
Entering her 10th season at the helm, Eagle head coach Sherren Granese has set down the usual goals for a squad that has won more games in the past two seasons than any other in the BIG EAST--a conference title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Both goals are easily in reach considering her young team has notched a 27-12-2 mark (.683 pct.) in 1994 and 1995.
But standing in the way of those goals is a concern about goals--last season, BC posted a 12-7 record despite averaging 1.53 goals per game (the Eagles gave up just 1.11 goals per outing). And although the 1996 Eagles boast the return of the BIG EAST's top scorer, junior Andrea Durko (13 goals and 27 points last season), and six of the team's top seven point-producers from a year ago, someone else has to pick up the slack, according to Granese.
"Of course we will look to Andrea to lead the offense, but someone else has to step up," she says. "Last season, Durko scored 13 goals while the next-highest total was four. There is too much of a gap there. If we can get someone to close that gap, we can certainly enjoy another fine season."
Granese will look to senior Michelle Labonge and junior Gabrielle Bieg to do just that. Labonge, who netted two game-winning tallies last season, has recorded 14 goals and 32 points in her career, including an eight-goal, 17-point freshman campaign. Bieg, who played at the 1993 Olympic Festival, started all 19 games at attack last season, her first after being redshirted in 1994. Sophomore speedsters Katie Gentile (15 games played in 1995) and Bonnie Larity (11 games), will both vie for time at attack.
Offensive support, says Granese, will also be available in an improved penalty-corner unit which welcomes back its main components-- senior tri-captain Nicole Statuta and sophomore Joy Ramsbotham. Statuta was a late addition to the unit in 1995, and used her booming shot to add two penalty-corner goals last season. Ramsbotham, who was one of three Eagles selected to the U.S. Under-21 National squad this past summer (with Durko and goalie Sarah Egnaczyk), assisted on every one of the corps' goals last year.
At midfield, Granese will counter the departure of Robin Rozycki and Rachel Mott by moving Ramsbotham up from the backfield. A steady competitor, Ramsbotham started all 19 games in her freshman season, and ranked third on the team in scoring. Another regular, Statuta will return to the midfield for the third-straight year. Competition, says Granese, will be wide open to round out the midfield squad.
A question mark exists in the backfield, however. Even though Granese can look to the 1995 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Anne Marie Ambros, and junior tri-captain and All-BIG EAST second teamer Marion Fitzgerald to anchor the backs, the loss of graduated sweeper Alexi Siglin is a concern. In four years, Siglin logged 76 games at defense leaving a hole in the Eagle backfield. Granese points to sophomore Alexis Froelich as a possible answer. Froelich was a four-time National Futures program participant in high school and enjoyed a tremendous spring season for BC. Classmates Janis Cornwell and Kendra Medville will also be available for depth.
Without doubt, the team's strength will one again reside in the Eagle goal cage. Senior tri-captain Sarah Egnaczyk, a two-time selection to the U.S. Under-21 National team, led the BIG EAST in wins (12) and save percentage (.895) last season, while ranking second in saves (153) and goals-against average (1.02). Already the school's record holder for career wins (31), saves (532) and shutouts (18), Egnaczyk will look to a fitting end to her spectacular career at the Heights. Backing her up will be fellow senior Elizabeth Hays, who was redshirted midway through 1995. Another young star, freshman Jill Dedman, will put off the start of her BC career, sitting out 1996 as a redshirt.
With an eye on goals, the young Eagles will look to continue their recent tradition of excellence and a shot at the 1996 NCAA Final Four--which BC will host in November.
"Although we are young, we have tremendous amounts of speed and potential, making us capable of great things," says Granese. "This season, we will try to continue last season's building process and chase our ultimate dream--playing before the home crowd at the Final Four."