2004 Season In Review

The Tigers were lethal on penalty corner plays in 2004.

The Tigers were lethal on penalty corner plays in 2004.

Setting the Scene:

Setting the Scene: The Wittenberg University field hockey team put together another outstanding season despite a coaching change and the loss of All-American goaltender Jen Meyer in 2004. The Tigers finished with a 15-5 overall record, including a mark of 9-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, good first place, one game ahead of a trio of teams. Wittenberg added the NCAC Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament before bowing out against fifth-ranked William Smith College in the second round of the national competition.

The Tigers streaked out to an 11-1 start and reached the end of the regular season with a 9-3 mark in the NCAC, good for a third straight title. Then, also for a third straight year, the Tigers advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament with two straight victories in the NCAC Tournament. Wittenberg has never lost in the conference tourney, which is now three years old.

Tigers In The Postseason:

Wittenberg made the seventh appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament in school history. The Tigers received a first-round bye in the 18-team tournament before losing in the second round at William Smith on Nov. 13. The Tigers have made seven total NCAA appearances (1994, '95, '97, '98, 2002, '03, '04), but they are still looking for their first NCAA win. William Smith defeated Wittenberg, 5-2.

Postseason Awards:

Senior midfielder Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) was honored with National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-America honors for the second straight season. In addition, Ufer was joined by senior defender Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian) in earning All-America honors from WomensFieldHockey.com.

Ufer earned NFHCA All-America honors for the second straight year, moving from third-team to second-team in 2004 and adding second-team honors from WomensFieldHockey.com. Ufer, who led the NCAC in scoring in 2004 with 18 goals, 13 assists and 49 total points, was a three-time first-team All-NCAC honoree and the 2004 conference Offensive Player of the Year. Also a two-time first-team All-Great Lakes Region selection, Ufer finished her career with 28 goals, 29 assists and 85 total points.

Happ, who spearheaded the conference's best defensive unit that recorded seven NCAC shutouts and allowed just 15 regular season goals (including NCAC Tournament), earned her first All-America designation in 2004 as WomensFieldHockey.com bestowed second-team honors on her. That award came on the heels of first-team All-NCAC and All-Great Lakes Region honors for the second straight year and NCAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. Happ, who also contributed 10 assists to the offensive attack in 2004, was a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter in field hockey, and she is a starter and all-conference honoree for the Tiger women's lacrosse team as well.

Junior forward Julia Wickham (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview) and sophomore defender Rachel Dunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) also earned first-team All-NCAC honors, both for the second straight year. Happ, Ufer and Wickham also made first-team All-Great Lakes Region.

Sophomore Katy Barrett (Powell, Ohio/Watterson) made second-team All-NCAC after scoring 16 goals and finishing with 35 total points in 2004, a year after leading the Tigers in scoring and making first-team All-NCAC. Senior defender Ashley Smith (Pittsford, NY/Menden) rounded things out with an honorable mention all-conference designation.

Julia Wickham made first-team All-NCAC for a second straight season.

Julia Wickham made first-team All-NCAC for a second straight season.

Senior All-Star Game:

Ufer was selected to participate in the prestigious National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III North/South Senior All-Star game, and Happ was chosen as an alternate for the game, which was played on Nov. 20 at Westfield State College in Westfield, Mass.

Super Seniors:

One of the finest senior classes in school history departed following the 2004 season, leaving many holes to fill. Joining Ufer and Happ, whose individual accomplishments are already documented, were Smith, midfielder Sarah Wallace (Reston, Va./South Lakes) and defender Melanie Boss (Dayton, Ohio/Oakwood). Boss was an all-conference honoree in 2003. All five seniors on the 2004 roster were starters.

As a group, this senior class compiled a four-year record of 58-22-1 and won three NCAC regular season and tournament titles. As freshmen, the Tigers placed second in the conference's regular season standings, but still tied the school record with a 10-2 mark in the NCAC.

The Coach:

Head Coach Kiki Chesterton (Roanoke '91) resigned after just one eventful season on the Edwards-Maurer Field sidelines. She led the Tigers to their third consecutive NCAC regular season and tournament championships. In posting a 15-5 overall record and a mark of 9-3 in the NCAC regular season, Wittenberg extended its streak to 23 straight non-losing seasons.

A former all-conference and all-region field hockey goalkeeper and a record-setting All-American women's lacrosse goalkeeper at Roanoke College, Chesterton has a career record of 41-33 in four seasons as a head field hockey coach at Kenyon, Kean and Wittenberg. As a head women's lacrosse coach at Kenyon and Kean, Chesterton's career record stands at 21-53-1 in five seasons. She also founded the women's lacrosse program at Fairleigh Dickinson in 1997 but never coached the team in a varsity game.

Chesterton was the fourth different coach to guide Wittenberg into the national tournament.

New Direction:

Chesterton's decision to return to New Jersey after the season opened the door for Diana Kuser (Ohio State, 2001) to be named Wittenberg's new head coach in February 2005.

Most recently, Kuser was an assistant coach in 2004 at Kenyon. She helped the Ladies to a second-place finish in the NCAC regular season standings and a 14-5 overall record, tying the school record for wins in a season. Her new team, three-time regular season and tournament champion Wittenberg, defeated her old team, Kenyon, in the 2004 NCAC Tournament title game. Kuser was a four-time Great Lakes Regional All-American, at three different positions, and a three-time All-Big Ten selection. She also helped lead Ohio State to the program's first Big Ten regular season and tournament championships in 2001 and its second appearance ever in the NCAA Division I Tournament.

Kuser, a former high school lacrosse standout, also serves as an assistant coach with the Wittenberg women's lacrosse program.