Mathew Galvao ’17, Sports Editor
The Merrimack field hockey team has been one of the most successful sports programs in the past few years. Just last season, the Warriors went all the way to the Division II NCAA Final Four. They came just one shot away from winning the game and heading to the championship, but a goal from Long Island University Post kept Merrimack out of the championship.
This season the team is bringing back almost everyone from their Final Four group. Led by their vast amount of sophomores, with some veteran leadership sprinkled throughout the lineup, the field hockey team is looking to have another great season.
“We have a really good group of young kids. If it’s not rebuilding, it’s a matter of recharging with a lot of new faces,” said Coach Anne Rounce. “We’re just looking to grow.”
With the potential to make it all the way back to the NCAA’s, Merrimack is looking to win a National Championship, but knows it’s going to take a solid foundation and a ton of work to get there.
“We want to win a national championship. We’re looking at taking it a game at a time. We know that we have a lot of little things that we need to work on. We’re just looking to work hard every single day,” Rounce explained.
What is going to be really beneficial for this team is the experienced gained from the past couple of Final Four appearances. The strong group of sophomores has been vital to the team’s success and have come ready to play this season.
“I think that the sophomores have done a terrific job coming into preseason in shape and ready to go. They bring a different edge,” explained Rounce. “I believe we have experience for Final Four, but we need to remind ourselves that we can’t take anything for granted because everyone else is working just as hard.”
Some Warriors to watch this season are Abbey Stacey, who was dominant in the back end for Merrimack last season, and returning All-American Katie Bishop, who leads the lady Warriors in points this season. Some other notables include junior Katrina Squeri and sophomore Maura Doyle, who were both tied for third in points just a year ago. Also freshman Rylee Hammond and goalkeeper Madison Davis round out some of the key players on Merrimack’s roster.
“Each grade level has the potential to breakout onto the seam,” Rounce said. “We’re returning one All-American, so we’re hoping that Katie Bishop has a good year, and we have a lot of other players who are under-shadowed.”
Merrimack has been one of the better teams recently in the Northeast-10 conference. The preseason coaches poll has Merrimack ranked second in the conference. They know that the polls aren’t necessarily a direct indicator of how they will rank in the conference come the season’s end.
“We’ll see. It depends on what they show,” Rounce stated. “I don’t think preseason polls matter at all. I think it’s about where you are at the end of the season.”
This coming season, this field hockey team needs to focus on all aspects of the game whether it’s on or off the field, to maintain the level of success the program has had.
“I want them to be hungry. I want them to be hungry as a rookie would be. Every day, whether it’s a game or a practice, they need to be hungry for everything,” Rounce said.