A new era of Wittenberg field hockey opens as the program welcomes first-year Head Coach Kelley Hubbell to the helm in 2010. She inherits a veteran team built to meet or exceed a lofty set of goals.
Coming off a 2009 season in which the Tigers captured a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) regular season title and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the eighth time in program history, the Tigers return 14 letterwinners, including 10 starters. There is experience and talent at all corners of the line-up, including two of the top four active scorers in all of NCAA Division III.
Seniors Boo Vernon (Lake Bluff, Ill./Cushing Academy) and Tori Casanta (Mason, Ohio/Cor Jesu Academy) stand second and third, respectively, on Wittenberg's career goals list. Vernon's 54 tallies also rank her third nationally among active student-athletes, while Casanta's 52 put her fifth on the same list. In terms of total points, Vernon checks in with 140, good for third on the NCAA list, while Casanta has 123, good for sixth.
A year ago, Vernon led the team in goals (17), assists (12), game-winning goals (6) and total points (46) en route to first-team All-NCAC honors for a third straight season. Casanta wasn't far behind with 15 goals and four assists, matching the point total of junior Elizabeth Dwyer (St. Louis, Mo./LaDue), who scored 14 goals and added six assists in her first season in the Red & White.
That trio wasn't alone in wreaking havoc upon opposing defenses in 2009 - the Tigers were one of two NCAC teams to top three goals per game. Sophomore Kellen Morrissey (Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill) was outstanding in her inaugural collegiate campaign, contributing three goals and six assists to the attack from her midfield position, while defenders Kelley Herde (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) and Meredith Price (Highland Park, Ill./North Shore Country Day) pushed up into the offensive third to add five goals and nine assists between them.
Speaking of Price, it isn't often that a returning conference Defensive Player of the Year is overshadowed on her own team. Clearly, the conference coaches realized her contributions after Price started all 18 games and added three defensive saves to the stats sheet en route to her third straight All-NCAC award.
Herde also started all 18 games, and she joined the Tiger masses on the all-conference honor roll at season's end. In addition to her six assists that ranked second on the team, Herde led the NCAC and ranked among the nation's best in defensive saves with a whopping 13 in 2009. She also took both of the team's penalty strokes during the season, converting both.
Junior forward Darcey Caciano (St. Louis, Mo./Kirkwood), senior midfielder Hannah Scheckelhoff (Blacklick, Ohio/Columbus School for Girls), junior midfielder Taylor Dawley (Bexley, Ohio/Bexley) and senior defender Marisa Myers (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) round out the returning starters among the field players. In addition, junior defender Alyssa Brake (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) made six starts a year ago and returns to the rotation.
Finally, junior Jenny Schaafsma (East Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids) established herself as the team's primary goalkeeper in 2009, finishing with a 9-4 record and five shutouts. She doubles as the starting goalkeeper for the Tiger women's lacrosse team.
The final piece to the puzzle is a solid six-person recruiting class that includes four student-athletes from The Netherlands. All six of the rookies are expected to play key roles for the Tigers in 2010.