Huskies hope to rebound after 2d dismal season

Huskies hope to rebound after 2d dismal season

With its second losing season in Cheryl Murtagh’s 20 years as coach behind them, Northeastern’s field hockey team hopes to rebound big in 2007.

“We want to win the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) title [this year],” said Murtagh, who has led the Huskies to 14 NCAA tournament berths, the last in 2004.

The Huskies posted a record of 10-12 (4-4 CAA) last season and have since lost several key players. Gone are seniors Sarah Eckhoff and Whitney Shean, who combined for twelve goals last year.

The off-season wasn’t kind to the defense either, as seniors Megan Troxel (22 games started), Natalie Singelais (10) and Joy Earley (8) are all gone this year. Sophomore Suzanne Hazelzet and junior Jillian Wilkes are the lone players with collegiate experience returning to the backline in 2007.

Despite this, Murtagh is excited about the talent her coaching staff has recruited and believes that the defense will be steadier this year.

The backbone of the Husky defense starts in the net, where senior tri-captain Liz Centofanti took over as the starting goalkeeper six games into last season and posted an 8-9 record. She ranked fourth in the CAA in shutouts with four and her 1.63 goals-against-average was also good for fourth. Backing her up will be junior Colleen Duffy, along with senior Meaghan Dorsi and redshirt freshman Samantha Sewell.

The backline will be anchored by junior assistant captain Jillian Wilkes, recipient of the most improved player award at the end of last year. After appearing in just four games her freshman year, Wilkes started 14 games for the Huskies last season. A member of the 2006 CAA-All Rookie team, Hazelzet will look to improve upon a steller greenhorn campaign, after playing in 22 games last season and posting four goals and two assists.

Incoming freshmen recruits Katrina Murray, Kristi Padavano and Anne-Reike Stuhlmann will look to play an important part in the defensive backfield this season.

The Huskies return several veteran midfielders, including three Ashleys: Webber, D’Ambra and Bascetta.

Webber posted six goals and five assists last year en route to being name to the CAA-All Conference team. The senior tri-captain was also named to the National Field Hockey’s Coaches Association All-American second team. D’Ambra, also a senior tri-captain, finished second on the team with seven assists, while Bascetta was second on the team with eight goals. Murtagh expects redshirt freshman Bridget Griffin to contribute this year as well.

Up front the Huskies return leading scorer Stephanie Casper (10 goals, five assists). Senior Harriet Hoyer and junior Rachel Wilkes will look to contribute this year, and Murtagh is looking forward to seeing redshirt freshman Meg Sweeney on the field.

“I’m optimistic about the team, even if it’s not the most experienced team,” Murtagh said. She said the Huskies’ schedule, which has been tough in recent years, is even more competative this year. The Huskies will play eight of the 20 of the top-ranked teams from last year, including Maryland, the 2006 National Champions.

“[We] want to be a little more consistent with the rest of the schedule,” Murtagh said. “[We] want to hang in and go after teams, and go into the CAA tournament.”

Northeastern will open its season Aug. 31 at Northwestern and will start its home portion of the schedule Sept. 15 against the Boston University Terriers.

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