BY Jennifer Toland
Almost three years later, the
thrill of playing in the Division 1 field hockey state championship
game and the sting after losing it are feelings that haven't
faded for former Shrewsbury High star Kathryn Nelson.
"My friends and I talk about it all the time," said Nelson, now a junior at Stonehill.
Nelson doesn't dwell on the disappointment of the Colonials' 6-4 loss to Acton-Boxboro, but rather uses it as motivation.
"Now the goals are bigger," she said, "and I want to bring that experience to our team at Stonehill. We want to get to the national championship now."
The Skyhawks came close last year. After winning the Northeast-10 Conference regular-season title, Stonehill made it to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Nelson netted a first-half goal, but UMass-Lowell scored with 1:46 left in advancing to the title game.
Nelson, who totaled a school-record 109 points at Shrewsbury and was a three-time T&G Super Team selection, was a major contributor to Stonehill's success last season. She ranked third on the team in both goals (11) and points (25).
After back-to-back losses at the start of this season, Stonehill has won three of its last four, thanks in large part to Nelson, who scored all four Skyhawks goals in a pair of 2-1 victories last week over NE-10 foes Bentley and Franklin Pierce. Nelson was named the NE-10 Player of the Week for her efforts.
"We have a great forward line, and our midfielder feeds us the ball really well," Nelson said. "A lot of my goals have come after the other team scores on us. I just get excited and pumped to try to bring us back."
With six goals and an assist, Nelson leads her team in scoring and ranks among the top five in the NE-10.
Stonehill returns seven starters from last year's 17-5 team. The Skyhawks are starting three freshmen, including back Gina Sheehan, who was a teammate of Nelson at Shrewsbury.
Nelson's brothers, Brian and Steve, played basketball in college. She was on the girls' basketball team for three years at Shrewsbury and remains a huge hoops fan. She loves the Celtics; Kevin Garnett is her favorite player, and she is excited about the acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal.
Stonehill was picked to repeat as NE-10 champion. The Skyhawks take on rival UMass-Lowell today.
"This year, I think every team is getting up for us because of what we did last year," Nelson said. "Everyone's trying to beat us. We know they're going to come at us hard."