Wittenberg University's field hockey program is on a quest for a 20th consecutive winning season in 2009, the first of several lofty goals for fifth-year Head Coach Diana Goggins' squad. Hopes of claiming the program's first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) crown and a return to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since 2004 are buoyed by the return of 14 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from last year's team that finished 11-8 overall.
In 2008, junior forward Tori Casanta (Mason, Ohio/Cor Jesu Academy) fell one goal short of tying the school's season record, and her 25 markers were second best in the conference. Casanta also led the team with nine assists last season. In only two seasons with the Red and White, Casanta is already in a tie for sixth all-time in career goals with 37.
Casanta's career goal total mirrors fellow junior and first-team All-NCAC selection Boo Vernon (Lake Bluff, Ill./Cushing Academy). Vernon found the back of the cage 19 times in 2008 to finish third in the conference.
Casanta and Vernon are joined in the attacking third by sophomore Darcey Caciano (St. Louis, Mo./Kirkwood), whose strong freshman campaign included seven goals.
On defense, the Tigers return a pair of first-team all-conference honorees in juniors Kelley Herde (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) and Meredith Price (Highland Park, Ill./North Shore Country Day). The duo also pushed forward effectively, combining for four goals and 12 assists.
Roaming the midfield is junior Hannah Scheckelhoff (Blacklick, Ohio/Columbus School for Girls), who contributed three assists while helping stabilize the Tiger quick transition game. Junior Marisa Myers (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) also enjoyed a strong year in the midfield in 2008, despite injuries that limited her for part of the year.
The 2009 goalkeeper position is hotly contested as sophomores Alyssa Ashbaugh (Gahanna, Ohio/Columbus School for Girls) and Jenny Schaafsma (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids) and junior Liana Began (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) all have collegiate experience. Ashbaugh and Began split the 2008 starts in goal, combining for 92 saves and a goals against averagejust above 2.00. Schaafsma was the top netminder for the Tiger women's lacrosse team in 2009.
Another outstanding recruiting class adds to the Tigers' depth and talent. They join other a cast of talented returning letterwinners, including senior defenders Bonnie Kenney (Lutherville, Md./Park School) and Tori Vogelgesang (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Ursula) and sophomore defenders Alyssa Brake (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) and Taylor Dawley (Bexley, Ohio/Bexley).