Following the 2011 season that was highlighted by an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament appearance, the field hockey program received great news, an invitation to return to campus after playing what will be its third season at Lincoln's School's Faxon Field in Rehoboth.
On the heels of a generous gift from field hockey alumna Diane Nordin '80, the college made an announcement to raise the remaining funds to build an on-campus turf field adjacent to the Haas Athletic Center. Plans call for the facility to open by the 2013 fall season. Although construction has already begun, there will be an official groundbreaking ceremony during Homecoming weekend in mid-October.
"The team is thrilled about the construction of the turf field and grateful for the support and generosity of alumnae/i, current parents and other donors, particularly Diane Nordin," said 13th-year head coach Rebecca Begley. "While it will be a huge asset for recruiting, the team is focused on this season and competing for a conference championship."
Looking to repeat last season's postseason appearance, Wheaton went 10-9 in 2011, with six of its losses coming by a lone goal. Playing in four overtime games as well, the Lyons posted a 4-4 mark in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).
"This year's squad is small in numbers but deep in talent," added Begley. "We are versatile and fit. The team's skill set is reflective of this being our third season on turf. Our players can play any position on the field, which makes us a scoring threat and a cohesive backfield. With two experienced goalies in net, we are solid across the board."
Graduating seven players from a year ago, the 2012 Lyons will be led by senior captains Gillian Mann (Burlington, Vt./Williston Northampton School) and Alex Smith (Suffield, Conn./Suffield). They are joined by classmate Kirsten Russell (Cumberland, Maine/Greely). The trio will be relied upon to bolster Wheaton's defense. Mann and Smith started all 19 games last season, helping hold 12 opponents to two goals or fewer.
Five sophomores and juniors represent the team's largest classes. Juniors Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) and Emily Chick (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) were the 2011 squad's second- and third-leading scorers, respectively. Classmate Ellie Massengill (Amherst, Mass./Amherst Regional) started all but one game in the cage, junior Eliza Kennedy (Madison, Conn./Tabor Academy) played in all 19 matches, while classmate Victoria Studley (Seekonk, Mass./Wheeler School) saw time in six.
Rocha finished last fall with nine goals and 23 points, while Chick deposited six markers and handed out a team-best eight assists for 20 points. Massengill went 9-9 with a 2.38 goals against average, while Kennedy turned in three goals and a trio of helpers for nine points.
The Lyons return four sophomores in Tracy McCann (Westerly, R.I./Lincoln School), Sarah McNicholas (Boxboro, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional), Andrea Winn (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) and Madison Wolters (Marstons Mills, Mass./Barnstable). McMann and McNicholas each saw time in 18 matches in 2011, Winn appeared in 12, while Wolters played in a pair of games in goal, picking up a shutout victory over Daniel Webster College.
Sophomore Dana MacDonald (Belmont, Mass./Belmont) joins the program for the first time this fall, while Olivia Papakyrokos (Fitchburg, Mass./Cushing Academy) makes up the freshman class.
The Lyons will open their season at the two-day University of Southern Maine Invitational this weekend. Wheaton takes on the host on Saturday followed by Husson University the next day. The Blue and White's schedule features a home game against eighth-ranked Skidmore College on Oct. 13 and a road contest with league foe and 20th-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) three days after that.
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