The Wesleyan University field hockey team enters the 2016 campaign with a newly resurfaced and updated Smith Field, and a team eager to return to the NESCAC Tournament after missing out the past two seasons. Head Coach Patti Klecha-Porter, who notched her 200th career win last year, enters her 32nd season at the helm of the program. The 2016 squad will be without last year's leading goal and point's scorer, Hannah Plappert '16, and starting goalkeeper, Sara Grundy '16, who both graduated in May.
The Cardinals will open the season with three-straight road games before returning home Saturday, September 17 when they open NESCAC play against Bowdoin at 11 a.m. The game will also be the first contest played at the newly renovated Smith Field, which features a new field turf and press box, and an updated scoreboard as well. Coach Klecha-Porter is beyond excited for the new turf, which she says has allowed this year's team to compete at full intensity during practice.
"The new turf has allowed for true competition at every practice with players challenging for every 50-50 ball, as they no longer need to fear the ball taking an unpredictable hop," said Klecha-Porter. "I am very proud and thrilled to be playing on a state-of-the-art facility."
Having to replace talent like Plappert and Grundy, along with Caitlin Majewski '16 and Michaela Celella '16, Klecha-Porter and her staff will look to key returning players to lead the team; co-captains Lauren Yue '17 and Emily Hart '17, Lily Ardente '18, Cici Frattasio '18, Ali Friend '19 and Alyssa Wood '19. Wesleyan also returns the majority of their defense, which is full of talented, seasoned, and experienced players.
The main goal for this year will be returning to postseason play, which has evaded the Cardinals the past two seasons. With three tough non-league games on the road to open the campaign, Coach Klecha-Porter believes those contests will set the tone for the rest of the season. Looking back on practice and scrimmage film, Klecha-Porter beams as she says she "sees the team developing before my eyes." From their strategy to execution, the coaching staff could not be more excited about the team that will be taking the field this season. They will, according to Klecha-Porter "take each game as it comes and improve everyday."