A year after winning the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) regular season title with a program-best 11-1 record and outscoring opponents by a whopping 79-25 margin, the Wittenberg field hockey program takes on a much different shape in 2011. That doesn't mean the goals are any different in Head Coach Kelley Hubbell's second season on the Edwards-Maurer Field sidelines.
Gone are 15 letterwinners, including eight starters, from the 2010 squad that finished 15-4 and lost out on an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament only after a heartbreaking last-second NCAC Tournament championship game loss. Just seven letterwinners are back in 2011, with three of them being goalkeepers.
Fortunately for the Tigers, one of those goalkeepers is senior standout Jenny Schaafsma (Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids), who earned her second straight first-team All-NCAC designation in 2010 after making 132 saves and posting a 1.68 goals against average. She ranks among the top 30 active goalkeepers in all of NCAA Division III in terms of career saves and minutes played entering the 2011 season.
Schaafsma will have to be at her best in her final season in the Red & White as Hubbell goes about the task of replacing the Tigers' entire defensive unit. The only returning letterwinner in that area is junior Beth Thomas (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson), who appeared in five games a year ago.
In the midfield, a pair of returners will take the leadership mantle. Junior Kellen Morrissey (Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill) has been an all-conference selection for both the field hockey and women's lacrosse teams over her first two collegiate years. Senior Darcey Caciano (St. Louis, Mo./Kirkwood) has started more than 40 games in her collegiate career.
Two of the top scorers in program history have graduated in Boo Vernon and Tori Casanta, leaving at least some of that slack to senior Elizabeth Dwyer (St. Louis, Mo./LaDue). A second-team All-NCAC selection a year ago, Dwyer has poured in 67 total points over her first two years in a Wittenberg uniform.
With so many positions open, Hubbell is counting on several recruits to step in right away. In addition, junior all-conference women's lacrosse standout Erin Guiliano (Loveland, Ohio/Kings) will lend her athleticism and intensity to the team for the first time, and sophomore Mallory Skrobot (Dublin, Ohio/Watterson) joins the defense after playing in the 2009 Ohio High School Athletic Association state championship game. Skrobot also earned a letter for the Tiger women's lacrosse team in 2011.
The Tigers open the 2011 season on Sept. 1 at Washington & Jefferson. Defense of their 2010 NCAC regular season championship begins on Sept. 3 at Denison.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photos By: Erin Pence