The Springfield College field hockey team is looking to build off of a promising season in 2017. The Pride finished the season with a 13-8 record and ended their season with a loss against nationally ranked Babson in the NEWMAC semifinals 7-3. The departure of senior Maggie Kennedy will be a big loss for the Pride’s offense. She produced 60 points last season, which is second most all-time.
Springfield added nine freshman to the squad while only losing four seniors this year. The early emergence of freshman forward Holly Rivers has allowed the team to spread out their scoring production greatly.
Last season the Pride scored 76 goals in 21 games, posting a 3.6 goals per a game average, and only allowed 2.41 goals per a game last season.
“We will be able to produce more goals this season,” head coach Melissa Sharpe said.
The main reason Sharpe believes this is that a majority of the goals Kennedy scored last season were set up by her returning teammates. This will allow the team for more opportunities as they are not relying on just one player to score a majority of their goals.
This season will see Springfield rely more on freshman production than in recent years.
“I think I’m one of the only coaches who is really comfortable relying on freshman.” said Sharpe.
She believes that the new blood in the team will allow them not to hang their heads on things that happened in the past.
“When you have young players, they don’t know what happened last year, they aren’t worried about what the team struggled with against opposing teams last year.”
The biggest story of the season will be to see how the first-year players on the team produce on the field. The help of veteran Amanda Nusbaum will be crucial to the freshman’s production this year.
The main goal for the season this year is simple: “It’s NEWMAC’s,” said Sharpe.
Player to Watch
Senior forward Amanda Nusbaum will have the biggest impact for the Pride this fall. Nusbaum has started in 60 of her 61 games played since arriving at Springfield her freshman year and is looking to end her collegiate career on a high note. She had a solid 2017 campaign, scoring seven goals and adding eight assists.
Nusbaum has never put up big numbers on the stat sheet, but has been a phenomenal leader both on and off the field.
“She’s so committed and such an intense player.” said Sharpe.
The Pride will look to rely on senior leadership and knowledge of the game throughout the season.
“Keeping people upbeat and their head in the game is just something we try to do.” said Nusbaum when speaking about her leadership role on the team.
Through only four games this season Nusbaum already has 11 points which is half of what she produced last season (22). Sharpe added, “She’s one of those players that just does it.”
The ultimate goal for Nusbaum this season is winning. Her experience and great vocal leadership is something that stands out when examining the Pride on Stagg Field.
“We can play with pretty much anybody.” said Nusbaum.
Look for her to keep producing points for the team and being their number one option when it comes to crunch time throughout the season.
Springfield will look to a wide array of scoring options for this season. Losing Maggie Kennedy is a big blow, but veteran leadership and the early emergence of Rivers allows this team to open up the field and bring in many options to finish inside the circle.
The team also lost sophomore defender Tirzah McMillan, who will be focusing on academics this season. McMillan was a force to be reckoned with on the field last year and the Pride will look to sophomore Morgan Bronk to fill in the void she left.
In addition to Nusbaum, senior goalkeeper Emmalie Drake will be looked at for leadership on the field as well. It is Drake’s second year as the Pride’s starting goalie and she is looking to add to an impressive season last year.
The potential is there for this years team, it’s just going to be a matter of if they can get over the hump midway through the season; something the team struggled with last season.
If the incoming class of freshman, along with the veteran leadership of Nusbaum and Drake work cohesively, Springfield will be the top dogs in the NEWMAC conference at the end of the year, and could punch their ticket into the NCAA tournament.