The Husson University field hockey team made its first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance last fall under first-year coach Katie Flaherty.
Flaherty is now Katie McCabe after her marriage to Bill McCabe, and her Eagles could be even better this season as 10 of 11 starters return from a 9-8 team that won the North Atlantic Conference title and lost to the nation’s 15th-ranked team, Amherst College in their NCAA tournament game.
Central midfielder Jenika Kelley is the only player who graduated.
“Jenika is a huge loss. That will be a tough spot to fill. But we’ll get better there as the season goes on,” said McCabe.
Husson featured balanced scoring last season as three players scored six goals apiece; two others scored four and two more scored three goals.
All seven are back.
“We’ll be experienced, that’s for sure,” said McCabe. “We’ll have our top scorers back but I’m still looking for that one person to emerge who will find the net consistently and who will score that goal when we need it.”
Manchester senior Jillian Morin, Gardiner senior Courtney Allen and Burnham junior Emily Woodbury were the six-goal scorers. Morin will play right wing, Allen is the right midfielder and Woodbury provides a spark off the bench up front. Morin and Allen also had four assists each.
Morin is joined up front by left wing Skye Ellis (3 & 0) of Belfast, junior center forward Kajsa Blindow (3 & 2) and Norridgewock senior Lorri Hiltz (4 & 1), who plays as a withdrawn center forward in the diamond alignment up front.
Freshman Sabrina Vaillancourt of Newport has been a “great addition up front” according to McCabe and Lisbon sophomore Kaitlyn-Jade Dingley (1 & 0) will also see some time at forward.
Joining Allen in the midfield are Lindsay Barnes (2 & 0), a senior from Owls Head who will play on the left side, and sophomore Kara Poirier (0 & 2), who will play centrally.
In the back, McCabe has Turner senior Caroline Bochtler (0 & 1), Belfast senior Helen Berry (4 & 1) and Otisfield junior Diann Ramsey.
Berry, who will play in the middle, is considered by McCabe to be “one of our most dangerous players.”
Berry is the shooter on penalty corners.
Leeds sophomore Kristen Capen (2.48 goals-against average, .748 save percentage) returns in goal. Old Town freshman Danyle Boobar backs her up.
Capen has allowed just six goals in her last six games while making 35 saves. That includes Wednesday’s season-opening 4-0 win over Thomas College.
“We should be at least as good as we were last year and, hopefully, better,” said Allen, one of the three captains. “We have better depth, more experience and more confidence.”
Allen also said Poirier is doing a good job replacing Kelley.
“And we’re all hungrier to score goals. We aren’t as timid as we were last year,” said Barnes, another captain.
Husson averaged 2.68 goals last season and surrendered 2.31.