By JOHN STOLLER and MICHAEL POZO
As the new school year begins, many of the finest athletes at Hopkins have just completed tough, busy preseasons in preparation for their upcoming fall seasons.
Not least among them is the Field Hockey team, which was recently picked to finish third in the latest Centennial Conference Preseason Poll.
The Blue Jays will return a crew of seasoned veterans with the experience necessary to lead the team to another successful year.
Last season the Jays finished 10-9 and earned a playoff berth before falling to the Ursinus College Bears in the Centennial Conference semifinals. This year the team will look to build off its experience and once again contend for a conference championship.
Among the team’s top returners are a strong group of senior captains: Kiana Duncan, Leslie MacManus and Elena Gresick. Both Duncan and MacManus started all 19 games for the Lady Jays last season while posting impressive statistics.
MacManus was named First Team All-Centennial Conference as well as Second Team National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-South for her reliable defensive work. Duncan also has played a key role in steadying the defense and initiating the offense out of the midfield.
Gresick is coming back after missing last season due to injury. In her first two seasons, Gresick started every game on the Jays defense and broke the school record for defensive saves.
On the offensive side, the Blue Jays will return almost all of their top scorers from last season. Sophomore Princess Sutherland led the team in goals last season and will be back to spearhead the offense.
Additionally the team will look forward to continuing contributions from some of their other top scorers such as senior Natalie Vicas and sophomore Morgan Pothast.
“Our number one goal is to do well in the Centennial Conference this season. We’re just going to take the season one game at a time and play our best,” Duncan said. “This season is different from the last three that I’ve played in that we have a lot of really talented players returning. We have a very strong starting lineup with 11 experienced players and a pretty deep bench. Everyone has the capabilities to contend for a starting spot, so it should be a pretty exciting year.”
The team also welcomed four new players in this year’s freshman class, all of whom will be eager to contribute.
The Jays delivered on the preseason anticipation and accolades on Tuesday, Sept. 1 with a thrilling 1-0 home
victory over the visiting Washington and Lee Generals.
The contest consisted of two full halves of tough defense spearheaded by junior Shannon Cosgrove, sophomore Francesca Cali and MacManus and a shutout in goal from sophomore Greta Helvie.
After both teams missed several close opportunities to put the game away at the end of regulation, the contest continued into extra time.
The first few minutes of extra time were highlighted by some Generals’ breakaway efforts which were foiled by the Lady Jays’ back line and goalie play.
Pothast delivered the game-winning score not long after at the 76:01 mark.
Describing her goal, Pothast said, “I cut off the pass from their defender and went straight to goal in order to seal her off. The goalie came out at me and I realized that all I had to do was quickly pull the ball to the right and sent it behind her. Goalies are weighed down by their pads so it’s all about using speed and footwork to beat them.”
Starting the season on the right note was crucial for the team as well.
“The win was the first win on Homewood to start the 2015 athletic season. It felt so good to implement all the skills we had learned from preseason, but at the same time we could still improve. But starting the season on a win gives us great momentum going into the rest of the season. Washington and Lee got the best of us last year on their field, so it was especially nice to return the favor tonight on Homewood,” Pothast said.
Up next, the 1-0 Lady Jays will host the first ever “Yellow Game” against Kenyon College on Sept. 5. The game will be played to raise awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). The money raised will go to the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation to fund research.