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FIELD HOCKEY OPENS SEASON SATURDAY AT WEST CHESTER
Julie Moore and the Retrievers travel to West Chester Saturday for the season opener.
A fresh start.
That’s what the UMBC field hockey team is looking for in 2006 after going 3-13 last season and winless in America East Conference games for the third year in a row.
And with a new head coach, five incoming freshmen and only seven returning starters, a fresh start is likely what the Retrievers will get.
Lauren Fuchs joined UMBC in 2006, becoming the second head coach in the team’s six-year Division-I history after 12 seasons at
Coaching changes often can be hard on a team, but Fuchs says the Retrievers have adjusted well. “They’ve been great. They’ve given 200 percent at every practice, and they’re trying new things, working hard, getting out of their comfort zone.”
Fuchs looks for senior co-captains and all-conference players Julie Moore and Kristi Troster to lead the Retrievers on the field. Moore, an America East all-conference first team member, is UMBC’s all-time leading goal scorer with 18, and with 44 points is just two from topping the all-time scoring list. Troster was an all-conference second team selection in 2005 and is the Retrievers’ top returning scorer after posting six goals and 14 points last season.
Fuchs hopes to have both Moore and Troster in the midfield, but says it is possible they could drop back to defense if necessary. “I’m hoping that Kristi Troster and Julie Moore will be the middle part of our midfield,” Fuchs said. “Julie will be very much a part of our offensive and defensive alignment. She’s very dynamic as an offensive player, and I also look for her to be one of our leaders on defense. Kristi will also be one of our leaders on defense, and we look for her also to create a lot of opportunities for us offensively.”
Joining Moore and Troster in a strong midfield, which lost three-year starter Amanda Heinz to graduation, will be sophomores Emily Smith and Amanda Yanulevich and junior Amy Morrow. Smith was third on the team in assists as a freshman with four, while Yanulevich scored the winning penalty stroke against St. Francis to give the Retrievers their first victory of the season and was named the team’s Most Improved Player in the spring.
“Emily has great skill work,” Fuchs said. “I really see her as being a solid middie for us, and one of our stick stoppers on offensive corners also. Amanda has really improved, so she’ll see a lot of minutes, either as a defender or a midfielder. She has a good passing sense, and she’ll create a lot for us. She’ll also probably be one of our key personnel on corners.”
Morrow started 10 games in 2005 and Fuchs expects her to get good playing time this season, as well. “I think she’s a very consistent player,” she said. “We’ll be looking for her to create a lot of scoring opportunities from the midfield area.”
Freshmen Casey Locher and Mary Strain will add depth in the midfield, as well.
The attacking unit, which ranked last in the conference in goals last season, loses three-year starter Katie Cutchall and America East all-rookie team member Paige Hartman from last year’s squad. The pair accounted for one-third of the Retrievers’ scoring output in 2005, as they combined to score 10 of the team’s 29 goals. Cutchall, a senior captain last season, ranked sixth in the conference in assists, while Hartman was UMBC’s top scorer.
Fuchs hopes senior Rebekah Krolus and sophomore Danielle Guldner can step up and fill the void. Krolus, the team’s third co-captain, scored the first two goals of her career in 2005 as a part-time starter and top sub.
“Bekah will be our veteran on the attacking line,” Fuchs said. “She’s very poised, and she creates a lot with the passing game. We’ll look for her to put some balls in the net for us.”
The speedy Guldner notched seven points on three goals last season as a freshman and enters 2006 as the third-leading returning scorer.
“Dani is a very explosive forward,” Fuchs said. “She really creates a lot of opportunities for us offensively.”
Joining Krolus and Guldner on the frontline will be junior Jessica Smith, sophomore Allyson Carter and freshmen Brittany Bendick and Kate Garnet. “All of our forwards have different strengths, so we’ll rotate them,” Fuchs said. “I expect a lot from my forwards, running-wise, so they’ll definitely need a break.”
Fuchs looks for a much-improved Smith to create scoring opportunities and take push-outs on offensive corners, while Carter, who saw no playing time as a freshman defender, has made the switch to forward and should see solid minutes. In addition, Fuchs coached the dynamic Bendick at the club level and expects her to be a scorer.
The biggest loss likely will be felt on defense, where Tiffany Deinzer graduated after leading the nation in defensive saves in 2005. The Retrievers ranked last in the America East in goals-against average after allowing 67 goals in 16 games.
Fuchs acknowledges the defense needs to improve from last season, and she hopes sophomore Courtney McNamara, who was injured during the spring but will be ready for the start of the season, can lead the way. McNamara registered four defensive saves in 2005.
“One of the biggest things is to improve on our defense so that our goals-against is better than last year,” the coach said. “Hopefully Courtney can be one of our strengths in the backfield.”
Fuchs also expects freshman Tasha Klares to see a lot of minutes on defense, and Moore, Troster, Yanulevich and Emily Smith may drop back from the midfield, as well.
“That’s where the question mark is, with our defense, who’s going to play where, since I might have to drop one of my middies to the backfield,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs expects junior Ashley Benitez and senior Kat Tag to battle for the starting job in goal, but she says both will see time between the posts.
“Our goalkeepers both played very well in the spring,” she said. “They each have different strengths and weaknesses and have some improvements to make, but I’m very satisfied with where they are.”
Benitez started 14 games last season and allowed 46 goals, but also recorded 98 saves, second-most in the conference, as the Retrievers led the league in saves per game. Tag saw time in nine games, getting two starts.
“I think we’re going to depend on everybody,” Fuchs said of her squad. “We’re really going to work on the team concept. Whether a player is starting or not starting, we’re going to need her to contribute.”
The 2006 schedule includes games against St. Francis and
“Our schedule is challenging,” Fuchs said. “I think most of our games are tough, and then you get right into our conference. It would be nice to win a couple there. That’s one of our goals. I’m looking forward to us upsetting some people. You build from your non-conference games to prepare for your conference games, and I really think we will compete well within the conference.”
The Retrievers open the season Aug. 22 at