Sophomore midfielder Maria McDonald on the field against Davidson last season. Georgetown will play the Wildcats as part of a two game road-trip to open the season.
WASHINGTON - The Georgetown field hockey team, led by first year head coach Shannon Soares, enters the 2014 season with 16 players returning from last season's squad and five new freshmen. Joining Soares on the sideline this season are assistant coaches Shelly Montgomery and Mary Beth Barham, both entering their first years as coaches.
The Hoyas, who posted a record of 2-16 in 2013, were picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST Conference this season. The team is using the preseason pick as motivation going into the 2014 season that will see them face conference foes UConn, the 2013 NCAA Field Hockey Champion, and Old Dominion. Both teams are ranked in the top ten of the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Preseason Poll.
"The BIG EAST is one of the toughest field hockey conferences out there," said junior midfielder Emily Weinberg (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Hathaway Brown). "We are using the ranking as motivation but it is not something that is weighing on our shoulders. We're going to play our game and hope to move up."
"We're all excited to make a statement," said sophomore midfielder Maria McDonald (Center Valley, Pa./Southern Lehigh). "People aren't necessarily expecting us to come out and be a strong team, but we can already tell that we're going to turn some heads this season."
The team took part in two preseason exhibition games this year and those games, coupled with the fighter mentality that is part of the program this season, have played a big role in the excitement the program has going into the 2014 season.
"The group that we have this year is a special group," said junior midfielder and captain Louise Chakejian (Chester Springs, Pa./The Episcopal Academy). "They are truly dedicated and willing to be disciplined for the season that we have ahead."
FORWARDS: The team of 21 features five forwards including junior Sarah Butterfield (Bridgewater, N.J./Oak Knoll), who was last season's top goal scorer with six, and senior Molly Denzel (Sunnyvale, Calif./St. Francis) who scored one. Joining Butterfield and Denzel on the attack are sophomores Aliyah Graves-Brown (Harrisburg, Pa./Harrisburg Academy), Molly Thompson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ann Arbor Pioneer) and freshman Megan Parsons (Chester Springs, Pa./Villa Maria).
MIDFIELDERS: Weinberg, who scored two goals during the season, and Chakejian are joined in the midfield by classmate Taylor Craig (New Canaan, Conn./ Choate Rosemary Hall). The trio played in all 18 of the Hoyas' games last season. McDonald and freshman Grace Hanrahan (West Roxbury, Ma./Winsor School) round out the midfield corps.
BACKS: Elizabeth Mueller (St. Louis, Mo./MICDS) and Brooke Simone (Radnor, Pa./Baldwin School) are the most experienced of the defenders this season for the Hoyas, having played in 18 and 14 games last season, respectively. Senior Tori Hideshima (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) and junior Callie Hiner (Westport, Conn./Staples) will also add veteran leadership in the back. Sophomores Delvin Holmes (Fleetville, Pa./Wyoming Seminary) and Hailey Vann (Yorktown, Va./Tabb.) along with the freshmen trio of Mackenzie Schneider (Norfolk, Va./Maury), Joanna Hawkins (Emmaus, Pa./Emmaus) and Bridget Denzel (Sunnyvale, Calif./St. Francis) complete the backfield.
GOALKEEPERS: Sophomore goalkeepers Rosalie Nolen (West Chester, Pa./Reed Henderson) and Rachel Skonecki (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Red Land) both return to the field this season. Nolen played in all 18 games in goal for Georgetown last season, logging a total of 151 saves. Skonecki saw action over four games and recorded five saves.
"We're very excited and focused on the future and our ability to change the identity of this program," said Soares. "Our kids have been coming in ready work every day and they're dialed in, with a real focus and desire to get better and that has been very exciting to see."
Soares will look to give the program a new identity, while building the foundation in year one. The 2014 season is also the first year the team will be playing its home games at the Multi-Sport Field, an added element that has the team looking forward to the season.
The squad travels to Boone, N.C. to take on Appalachian State this Friday, Aug. 29 at 3:00 p.m. to start the 2014 season. Georgetown opened the season against the Mountaineers in 2012 and emerged victorious with a 3-2 come-from-behind win. Following the game against Appalachian State, the Hoyas will travel to Davidson, N.C. to take on the Davidson Wildcats on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 2:00 p.m.
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