For a team with just two substitutes and a single back-up goalie, the 2010 season was a success. Swarthmore Field Hockey tripled its Conference win total from 2009 en route to its winningest season since 2007, even though most teams had at least 8 substitutes and more than just one back-up goalie.
Now in 2011, the Garnet has the numbers to supplement their talent. An incoming class of nine joins with ten returners on an up-and-coming squad that is ready to make noise in the competitive Centennial Conference.
Head Coach Lauren Fuchs enters her fourth season at the helm of the Garnet after stops at the University of New Hampshire, Temple, and UMBC in her decorated coaching career. Fuchs will guide the youngest team in the Conference: The team has nine freshmen, four sophomores, and zero seniors.
But the young team does not want for leadership. Junior captains Sophia Agathis and Allison Ranshous have started all 37 games in their careers thus far and anchor the middle of the Garnet formation, with Ranshous at center back and Agathis as an attacking midfielder.
Agathis has registered 10 goals and 16 assists; the assist total already ranks 7th in program history and her freshman total of nine is tied for the second most in Centennial history by a rookie.
Junior classmate Katie Teleky is the team’s active leader in goals (17) and points (37), and the team will rely on Nia Jones ’14 (eight goals in 2010) as well as several freshmen, including Beth Johnson ’15 and Meagan Hearney ’14 to improve an offense that ranked seventh in the Centennial Conference with 2.22 goals per game last year.
Each of the five juniors has appeared in at least 24 of the team’s matches of the over the past two seasons and the team as a whole plays well beyond their class-years. “Experience is everything, and all of the juniors have had a lot of playing time over the past couple of years because we’ve always been a small team. Now, we have the opportunity to use that experience alongside a great class of freshmen,” Ranshous said.
That freshmen class is the best the program has seen in over a decade and, with no team members set to graduate for the next two years, the squad has bonded quickly both on and off the turf. “We’ve had great chemistry thus far this pre-season with the upperclassmen and the freshmen and I think that this is going to translate into our play this season. Our communication on the field has been excellent,” Agathis said.
The Garnet should have one of the top midfields in the Conference with Aarti Rao ’14 and Catie Meador ’13, a pair of three goal-scorers in 2010, and Eileen McHugh ’14 joining Agathis.
On the defensive end, Swarthmore loses goaltender Katie Ashmore ’11, who held opponents to a 2.95 goals against average last year. But sophomore Gabby Capone relishes the opportunity to start between the pipes after seeing action in four games as a rookie.
“I think that our defense has looked really strong in preseason and I think I learned a lot from Katie last season. I hope to emulate her aggressive style and vocal leadership from the back while remaining technically sound and composed,” Capone said.
“I think that teams are built from the back line and I’m confident that we can be the foundation for a successful season,” Capone added.
The team may be young, but it is ready to contend for a Centennial Conference playoff berth this year and eager to erase the frustration of seven losses in 2010 by one or two goals, including three in Centennial play.
Swarthmore opens the season on Saturday at Clothier against the Marlins of Virginia Wesleyan, a team coming off a 2-15 season last year. Play is scheduled to begin at 1PM.