Field Hockey Team Strives for a Better Season
Michael Apotria – Special to the Southern News
Heading into the 2016 season, head field hockey coach Kelley Frassinelli said she expects the best from her team.
“I have expectations of being at a certain spot skill-wise, athletically, and certainly academically,” said Frassinelli.
According to the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Poll, the Owls’ field hockey team is ranked in last place at No. 13, collecting 28 points. Merrimack is No. 1 with 141 points and 10 first place votes.
While some teams may feel discouraged due to the ranking, the Owls are using it as a chip on their shoulders for the season.
Sophomore forward Emily Stross said it has added motivation.
“We’re coming in as the underdogs. There is no where to go but up from here,” said Stross.
In the 2015 season, the Owls’ field hockey team earned a record of 6-12 with four of those wins coming against conference opponents.
Frassinelli said while the team had some remarkable playmakers, they found themselves lacking experience. To start the year the Owls had 11 freshman on the roster, eight of which remained on the roster throughout the year.
“It takes some time adjusting and getting used to college level. It is very different, it’s a completely different animal,” said Frassinelli.
Natalia Prukalski said that college level is a lot faster than high school play.
“In high school every girl was used to being the best player on their team,” Prukalski said. “I learned that in college there is a lot more stuff to work on.”
Entering the new season, Frassinelli said she is expecting last year’s freshman and current sophomores to elevate their game.
“This is a bigger year for them to learn the pace of it, especially with only having one senior on the roster for the 2017 season. When they come in they are not quite prepared and you have to have that mindset to push through it,” said Frassinelli.
The sophomore athletes already have a full year under their belts now. They are coming into the new season without the freshman jitters and are expected to take on larger roles.
One player coach Frassinelli expects to take the next step is sophomore goalkeeper Kelli McCombs. McCombs as a freshman was the second choice goalkeeper behind Audrey Dolloff, who played all 18 games for the Owls last season.
“She has some huge shoes to fill”, said coach Frassinelli.
Although she was not the starting goalkeeper last season, McCombs said it did not stop her from absorbing experience and wisdom from Dolloff.
“Audrey was a phenomenal role model, her instincts were great and she really pushed me to get better,” she said.
McCombs said she has been dealing with a quad injury, but hopes to be ready for the season opener.
“It has been frustrating,” McCombs said, “It’s tough having to watch your teammates run during practice. I’d rather be doing it.”
The season opening game saw the Owls drop 7-1 to Shippensburg University. Then a day later the Owls lost 2-1 in overtime against Mansfield University.
However, in their first home game, the Owls managed to pick up their first win of the season in a 2-1 victory over Franklin Pierce University. Then managed to win again 3-0 to Molloy College to bring their record to 2-2 overall.
Coach Frassinelli said they have prepared all preseason on the defensive front, a part of their game that had some holes last season.
“We focus a lot of our work on defense. I think our offense has sort of come into it’s own, they work well together and see the field well”, said Frassinelli.
The field hockey team’s next game is against American International College on Sept. 17 at 4 p.m.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications