Aug 29, 2013
Chestnut Hill, Mass. - The Boston College field hockey team opens the 2013 season on Friday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. against the Vermont Catamounts in Burlington. Before heading back to the Heights, the Eagles will also take on Rutgers. Last year, the Eagles were 10-9, 2-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Head coach Ainslee Lamb answered questions about the team as the season get underway.
You are returning 19 of your 21 letter winners from last year, including three NFHCA All-Northeast Region honorees and an All-American. What can we expect from this year's team?
It's really exciting to have 19 players back but at the same time, we can't rest on our laurels. It can be a tremendous strength if we work to let it be one. I think that has been really my driving force. Tactically, right now, it's taken very little coaching to re-evaluate the press. They can regurgitate our tactics, but we want to be taking another step. We need to raise our standards with our returning athletes.
You have six newcomers. What is the freshmen class like?
They're awesome. They are a great group and it makes me smile thinking about them. We are very fortunate to have six talented field hockey players and more importantly, wonderful girls. I think what's cool with our 19 returners is that our freshmen have great leadership and mentors. It has actually accelerated their potential. If they follow the players above them, it's inevitable they will be in a better place and you can see that already. They are more prepared than any freshman class I've had and I think that is because they are talented and have the desire to be good, and more importantly, because they have the 19 leading them.
Nine members of the field hockey team played on national teams or with Futures Elite program over the summer. You also coached both. What sort of impact does this have on the participants and on you as a coach?
I am a firm believer in different opportunities and learning about different coaching techniques. I am not a coach who only thinks that if you are playing for me, you should only listen to how I coach or what our tactics are. The real strength is that these players have the ability to play at a very elite level, and more importantly, they get to be coached by elite coaches. Each and every one of them brings back something to BC that makes us better. We're not perfect with what we are doing and I love to hear how other teams approach the game. I think it makes our program better.
For me, coaching at that level is two-fold. This year, it gave me an opportunity to coach the younger players and really get some insight into the character of some we are considering as future Eagles. That character aspect is very important to me. There is also always that professional growth for me. The only reason I go out there and do it is to get better and better. I want to be better for BC.
Last year's captains, Kara Mackintire and Jacqui Moorfield, both of whom played in the backfield, graduated. What has the team done to make up for their absence?
Jacqui and Mack were both significant losses - in so many ways. On the field, their positional impact was that all of a sudden, we found ourselves with not a lot of depth in our backfield. Last spring, we met with three players - Jordyn Hamilton, Jacqueline Kelleher and Abby Bascetta. We expressed to them what the team needed and we wanted them to consider making the commitment to change their position and - typical BC - they were fully committed to making it happen. Both Jordyn and JK played the entire summer in the backfield, which I think made a big difference, and Abby also went onto both national championships playing a little bit of mid and but also back. Not only did they make the commitment to us, but they made sure that any opportunity they had, they put themselves in the backfield to be more prepared for our season. I think they are all doing excellent.
Talk about your three captains - seniors Virgynia Muma and Paige Norris and junior Sarah Hospodar.
I am really excited for our three captains. It's healthy in leadership to have differences. Sarah is very different than Vinnie and Vinnie is very different than Paige. It just happens that one is in each line. Vinnie is up front in the forward line, Paige is in the midfield and Sarah is in the backfield. That was not a dictating force as to why they were voted captains, but it does help to have that leadership in each line. They have done a tremendous job. This spring, we did a 10-week leadership program that was really time-consuming. They were very committed to it and you could see their leadership skills really develop. I feel so good about where those three athletes will take this program. I love that they have a lot of ownership of the team and they want the responsibility to lead the team. It makes my job a lot easier and allows me to spend more time coaching hockey and less time worrying about the little issues.
Sophomore Leah Settipane returns to goal after gaining massive amounts of experience last year as your sole keeper. What sort of growth have you seen from her? What can be expected of freshman Audra Hampsch?
For the first time in a long time, we have two very talented goalkeepers. The hope is that the competition will only foster their development. Audra is extremely quick. [Goalie coach] Carolyn [Cahill] says Audra probably has the fastest footwork she has ever seen in a goalkeeper. Her agility and her athleticism are excellent. Leah is also off the charts athletically. If you look at all the testing, she is probably our top athlete. She's actually preforming the best, which, for a goalie, is a tremendous thing to do. She has such desire to lead in that aspect. Leah's edge right now is that she has had that opportunity to train with Carolyn for a full semester. We all know that, historically, Carolyn makes a difference. I am excited for Leah to apply all the things she learned this spring, more tactically, than we had time to do last fall. And I am really excited for Audra to compete for the position, but to even have her with Carolyn for a full year is going to put her in an incredible position.
Talk about your coaching staff and how they help the program.
I feel so fortunate to have such a great staff - on and off the field - to work with. Carolyn [Cahill] is a volunteer, so the time she gives to our program is unbelievable. She is so committed and so loyal to these players and they are so lucky - and I am so lucky - to have her. I am excited for Carolyn's [Malloy] growth this fall. Our goal is for her to get a real sense of what the coaching profession is about and I feel good about her potential. I know she has a bright future. Kelly is arguably the one of the best assistant coaches in the country. What's really cool has been her development over the last year. She came in being good, but she is on a path of being great and she is going to make a difference for us.
The Eagles will face seven teams that played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including four from the ACC. What are the advantages of playing such a difficult schedule?
Whenever I meet with BC student-athletes and I ask them, "What do you want? What do you want BC to represent?" They want the strength of schedule. They want the challenge. They want to walk on the field and know they have to preform to win the game. I think because we are founded on growth and constantly improving, it's the only way to get better. The schedule is certainly challenging, but I am confident that they will step it up and enjoy it.
Boston College is hosting the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament for the second time since joining the league. Talk about the excitement surrounding that.
I think that Boston College is - no question - the best in the conference at hosting an event. The people we have at BC take such pride in hosting, so I am so excited for the six other ACC institutions to see us at our best. On the hockey side of it, it definitely is an advantage for us to play that first round - and have the opportunity to win - on our home field. Certainly, I am explaining to the team it is something we need to take advantage of. I am really looking forward to it. Everything is in our court to help us win that first round.