Roster turnover is an inherent part of college sports. Players graduate, transfer, turn pro. And yet the drive to win endures, no matter the name on the back of the sweater.
The field hockey team is a perfect example. Last season’s top two scorers potted 42 of the squad’s 62 tallies, leading the Huskies to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The goalkeeper earned First Team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors, posting a 1.66 goals against average and .729 save percentage.
None of them is with the club this season—the goalie graduated, the leading scorer concluded her eligibility, and the No. 2 sniper opted to continue her field hockey career in Ireland. But the Huskies must play on, beginning with the regular season opener on Aug. 30 at the team’s new facility in Dedham, Mass.
The 2013 roster comprises 23 players, 11 of them freshmen. The Huskies will need more than a few of them to step up in order reach the conference tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
While the team lacks players who have scored more than a couple collegiate goals, head coach Cheryl Murtagh isn’t concerned. In place of stars, she said, they have depth. “We’ll be more balanced this year,” said Murtagh, who has led her squad to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in 25 seasons. “We have several players who can score.”
She pointed in particular to two freshman forwards—New York native Emma Lamison and Emmy Zweserijn of the Netherlands. “They’re both strong and have good skills,” Murtagh explained. “They’re really tough in the circle and have powerful shots.”
Co-captain Lindsay Bennett, who ranked third on last year’s team with five goals and 21 points, agreed with her coach’s assessment of the offense. “Some of the new players have very hard shots and great accuracy,” Bennett observed. “The freshmen interact with the ball a lot and bring a great energy to the team.”
The same could be said of the trio of goalkeepers, all of whom are vying for the starting role. Becky Garner, a freshman from England, is locked in a three-way battle with redshirt juniors Tameka Geaslen and Cara Ahlgrim, both of whom played sparingly last season.
“They’re all working tremendously hard and getting extra reps in after practice,” Bennett said. “They bring a new edge of competiveness to the position.”
Aside from raw talent, the Huskies have one big intangible in their corner: the schedule. Eleven of the team’s 19 regular season games will be played at their new home in Dedham. Last season the Huskies practiced in Waltham and played home games in Cambridge and Chestnut Hill, making it difficult to establish a rhythm.
“The quality of our practices [at the new facility] is so much better,” Murtagh said. “We’re not rushed in and out and we’re able to show video and have team meetings there.”
“We hope it will have an immediate impact on the program and a long-term impact on the success of the team,” she added.