Senior All-American Sarah Morse returns to serve as co-captain this fall. (PHOTO BY Gil Talbot)
Skyhawks begin 20th anniversary season among Conference favorites
EASTON, Mass. (August 24, 2016) – The two-time defending Northeast-10 Conference tournament champion Stonehill College field hockey program has been picked to finish second in the league, according to the NE-10's 13 coaches it was announced today.
Stonehill is ranked second with 130 points, collecting two first place votes, while Merrimack College is picked first with 141 points and ten first place votes. Following Merrimack and Stonehill in the preseason poll are Adelphi University in third with 116 points, with Saint Anselm (100 points) fourth and defending NE-10 regular season champions Assumption College (99) rounding out the preseason top five.
Stonehill, which is celebrating the 20 years of the program's history this fall, returns 18 letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2015 squad which posted a 14-7 record overall, including 9-3 in Northeast-10 play, on its way to winning the program's third NE-10 tournament crown and the seventh NCAA Tournament bid in program history last season. Second year head coach Susan Ciufo welcomes back senior All-America midfielder Sarah Morse (Westminster, Massachusetts/Oakmont Regional), a third team CoSIDA Academic All-American, but the Skyhawks will need to overcome the graduation of three-time first team All-American Erika Kelly '16, the Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II Player of the Year last fall, who finished her career as the program's all-time leading scorer with 217 points – one of just five student-athletes in program history to eclipse 200 career points.
Senior Shea Healy is also a co-captain for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Gil Talbot)
Morse, who will serve as co-captain this fall along with classmate Shea Healy (Greenfield, Massachusetts/Pioneer Valley), enters her senior season ranked fifth in program history with 24 career assists – 12 shy of the program record of 36 set by Kelly Latendresse '07. She has totaled 36 points with six career goals, four of which are game winners, over her 59 career games played, after she finished the 2015 season ranked second nationally in Division II and in the NE-10 with her team-high 12 assists to go with four goals for 20 points, netting three game winning goals.
Healy is a three-year starter in the Stonehill midfield, having registered nine goals and five assists for 23 points in 62 career games, including six goals and two assists for 14 points last fall. Sophomore Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood) returns after being named a second team All-American and Division II All-Rookie selection by synapsesports.com, with classmate Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) also being named to the synapsesports.com All-Rookie Team.
Smith made an immediate impact for Stonehill during her freshman year, finishing with 14 goals and seven assists for 35 points, to rank second on the team behind Kelly for goals and points, while ranking third after Kelly and Morse in assists. Freedman saw the majority of time in the Stonehill goal during her freshman season. She finished with a 2.03 goals against average and .746 save percentage with 5.3 saves per game and two shutouts in 1,241:13.
Stonehill opens its 2016 season next Saturday, September 3, when it hosts defending NCAA Division II National Champions East Stroudsburg University as part of Skyhawks Kickoff Weekend at W.B. Mason Stadium at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks' Northeast-10 opener is two weeks later when it hosts Saint Michael's College at 11 a.m. Stonehill's annual Alumni Game on Saturday, September 24, against LIU Post at noon will also mark its official celebration of 20 years of Stonehill Field Hockey. Stonehill will also host the 2016 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships at W.B. Mason Stadium November 17-20.
For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.