“Dream big.eyes on the prize” is the motto of the Quinnipiac University field hockey team. This slogan defines the goal of the Bobcats as they hope to rise to the top of the Northeast Conference in the coming season.
In 2003, the Bobcats posted one of their best seasons with an NEC championship. The following season, the team couldn’t follow up that success and endured one of its toughest campaigns, a 5-14 season.
After a step in the right direction last year with a 9-10 record, the field hockey team hopes an excellent recruiting class and a new playing surface will propel them to success in 2006 and beyond.
“I think we’re shifting into a new era with the turf,” said head coach Becca Kohli.
This year’s team is built around a strong core of young players and a few veteran players.
Senior captains Jackie Barton, Jaime Cassesse and Megan DeCesaris are expected to play a great role in helping the young players develop. Seniors Danielle Avenoso and Megan Dahle plan to play a significant role as well. “They have led us to where we are now,” Kohli said.
Avenoso and Cassesse are returning All-NEC performers, and Avenoso earned regional All-American honors in 2005. Yet the Bobcats are built around a team concept, and not focused on individuals. “I think what makes our team great this year is that there is no one person to go to,” Barton said.
The most obvious goal for the team this year is to earn a berth in, and win, the NEC tournament. “We’re looking to go back to the NEC tournament and win it,” Cassesse said.
The top four teams at the end of the regular season move on to the NEC tournament. The winner of the NEC tournament advances to the NCAA tournament.
Lock Haven, Fairfield and Robert Morris have led the NEC in recent years and this year Lock Haven is favored to win the conference title. The games against these three schools loom large on the horizon for the Bobcats.
“We’ve seen a big change in the last few years in our conference, all for the betterment of the sport,” said Kohli.
Yet, the team insists upon targeting each game with equal importance. “We’re gonna have to use them all as stepping stones and keep improving,” said Barton.
Despite high expectations of such a young team, the Bobcats plan on looking at the season one segment at a time.
“I can’t even look past today’s practice,” said Kohli.
Last Tuesday, the team began its season with a difficult 3-2 loss to Holy Cross. Cassesse and sophomore Lauren Kuchmak scored goals to eliminate a 2-0 first-half deficit, but the Crusaders scored with 3:08 left in the game to secure the victory.
Even with the loss, the team hopes that the development of talented young players will help them improve as the season moves forward.
The Bobcats already avenged their loss to Holy Cross with a 3-0 win Saturday over Atlantic 10 foe LaSalle University.
“We have to trust each other throughout the month of September and the beginning so we can peak once October rolls around,” Kohli said.