2004 Season Outlook

Carrie Happ was all-region and all-conference in 2003.

Carrie Happ was all-region and all-conference in 2003

The Wittenberg field hockey team may be in a state of coaching transition, but that doesn't mean the Tigers have lowered their expectations. With a strong senior class used to winning North Coast Athletic Conference championships, and a strong group of eight incoming freshmen, the Tigers have set their usual set of lofty goals in 2004.

Fitting into Head Coach Kiki Chesterton's up-tempo style is the first order of business, and a core group of five outstanding seniors will be asked to be leaders both on and off the field during this season of transition. All five - midfielders Sarah Wallace (Reston, Va./South Lakes) and Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) and defenders Ashley Smith (Pittsford, NY/Mendon), Melanie Boss (Dayton, Ohio/Kettering Fairmont)and Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian)- have earned at least two varsity letters and four of the five have been starters for almost their entire collegiate careers.

In 2004, the team appears to have a nice mix of experience and youth at every position, starting with the forwards. Junior Julia Wickham (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview), who assisted on the game-winner in last year's 1-0 overtime thriller against Wooster in the NCAC Tournament title game, and sophomore Katy Barrett (Powell, Ohio/Watterson), who topped the squad with 11 goals and 24 total points, are both back in 2004. They are joined in the attacking zone by sophomore Melissa Jackson (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington), who scored two goals in seven games a year ago, and freshmen Caroline Mason (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) and Claire Johnson (Mason, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame)

In the midfield, Ufer is the key player. A third-team All-America honoree in 2003 and a two-time all-conference and all-region selection, Ufer started all 20 games a year ago and finished with a team-best nine assists and 23 total points, good for second on the team. Wallace and sophomore Holly McHugh (Randolph, NJ/Randolph) are the other two returning letterwinners in the midfield, and they are joined this year by freshmen Laura Prince (Haren, The Netherlands/Praedinius) and Alison Voigt (Louisville, Ky./Ballard).

The team's defense should be a strength in 2004, although it's not without concerns as well. Gone is All-American goaltender Jen Meyer, who is studying at Duke University this fall, and in her place is freshman Nicole Irvin. She will be protected by a group of defenders that returns almost intact from 2003. Boss and Happ were All-NCAC honorees a year ago, Smith was a starter in the midfield and sophomores Kirsten Enevoldsen (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne), who appeared in 18 games in 2003, and Rachel Dunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny), who started all 20 games and made the NCAC All-Tournament team. They are joined in 2004 by freshmen Kate Bucher (Oxford, Ohio/Talawanda), Christina Irwin (Bexley, Ohio/Bexley) and Sadie Mummert (Hanover, Pa./Littlestown).