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2005 UMBC FIELD HOCKEY SEASON PREVIEW
Katie Cutchall and the Retrievers open the season Wednesday at Towson.
After losing five seniors from last year’s squad, which finished 4-13 and seventh in the America East, the UMBC field hockey team will embark on a rebuilding season in 2005.
But Head Coach Kristy Hartman Mumma and the rest of the Retrievers are ready for the challenge.
“We lost five active seniors, many of whom had held positions for years,” Hartman Mumma said. “However, I think that some of the other players are ready to step up now. They have been preparing under the previous senior class, and now it is their turn to be leaders for this young team. From that side of things, I’m really excited about it because I can see that they’re ready and they’re excited and they know the opportunity’s there for them.”
Those players include juniors Julie Moore and Kristi Troster and senior Katie Cutchall, who will anchor the Retrievers’ offense.
“Kristi has been a consistent performer for us since her freshman year,” Hartman Mumma said. “She has the ability to control a lot of game play. I think that she may shine more this year than she has in other years because of her increased patience and possession skills. Julie’s touch is so strong and soft at the same time that it allows her to place the ball well on passes, but also to quickly maneuver and redirect if that’s what’s required on goal. Julie and Troster compliment each other; they bring out each other’s strengths.
“Katie is intense, and she’s now taking on a new leadership role, being a captain. I think she’s trusted by her teammates for her purist of intent - her desire to win, period. She’s definitely going to be a key contributor for the attack.”
Hartman Mumma also expects speedy freshmen Danielle Guldner and Paige Hartman to earn starting spots on the frontline, while junior Rebekah Krolus, who has worked on her speed and control, will be a top sub at attack. The coach expects Hartman, with her quick wrists and feet, to be a top scoring threat for the Retrievers. Senior Sara Gray and sophomore Jessica Smith will also compete for playing time up front.
Hartman Mumma believes the midfield will again be the Retrievers’ strength in 2005, due in part to its great flexibility. Troster or Moore could move back and head up a core that will also include senior Amanda Heinz, sophomore Amy Morrow and freshman Emily Smith. Heinz’s patience and control have increased over the years, while Smith’s strong defensive skills will allow her to help force turnovers. Hartman Mumma hopes the three can step up to fill the void left by the departures of long-time mainstays Jen Rowe and Leslie Chilcote.
Hartman Mumma also looks for freshman Amanda Yanulevich to be a strong sub in the midfield. Yanulevich has good vision and maneuverability, she places her passes well and she is not afraid to take shots.
“That’s a great attribute for someone who’s going to be in the midfield role because you want them to be aggressive when they can be, and Amanda will do that,” Hartman Mumma said. “She’ll put it on goal, and she won’t be afraid to go after the rebound either.”
The coach hopes Yanulevich, Morrow and Emily Smith together can be the “next generation” of Retriever midfielders.
Also in the mix for playing time is freshman Allyson Carter, a very versatile player who could see time at midfield or on defense. A scrappy, intense player, Carter will be working hard to earn minutes this season.
Deinzer and sophomore Natalie Hopkins will anchor the defense with strong contributions from incoming freshman Courtney McNamara. Deinzer has started all but one game over the last two years and will be counted on for her leadership on the backline.
The goalkeeper position is wide open, as three-year starter Megan Polek graduated. Sophomore Ashley Benitez saw some playing time there last season and has been working on her speed, coordination and agility. She will be challenged by junior Kathryn Tag, a 2004 walk-on who has been training hard and working on her form and technique.
“The tremendous dedication Ashley and Kat have displayed to master their skills is amazing,” Hartman Mumma said.
Freshman Rachael Drummonds, who has played at the international level for the U-16 national team, is coming off an injury she suffered last year and will be rehabbing entering the 2005 season, but Hartman Mumma knows the goalie will work hard to get back on the field. “I know her heart, her determination, dedication are there. She wants to be playing also,” the coach said.
Hartman Mumma believes the Retrievers face an America East Conference which is “wide open” at the outset. With perennial league powerhouse Northeastern, which had won the last four league championships and 10 of 14 overall, moving on to the Colonial Athletic Association, Hartman Mumma says the conference has opened up.
“With Northeastern gone, it changes the conference dynamics,” she said. “Northeastern was dominating the league, so conference play will be even closer this year. It’s a good opportunity to finally get our first conference win. We are underestimated by many of our opponents, but that is OK with us. It just makes our potential victory that much sweeter. The team has been making significant strides each of the past two years in the America East Conference, but the wins haven’t come. What’s great about sports competition is that on any given day any team can win. Our days are coming.”
Despite only playing five home games in 2005, Hartman Mumma hopes the fact that every conference team now plays on turf will create an advantage for the Retrievers. "Yes, the games are away, but we've got a great parent/fan contingent now that travels with us, which will make the away games friendlier and provide a new level of support," she said. “And so I think, with all the games being on turf, we can still play our game and still be successful in our style of play.”
The Retrievers open the season Aug. 31 at