Last year’s field hockey team struggled, going 3-6 in the NESCAC and 6-9 overall. Although the team’s efforts were good enough to earn a tournament spot, its playoff run was short-lived as it dropped the opening game to Middlebury 3-2.

The Cardinals are returning 12 letter-winners, including 7 starters, in addition to welcoming nine new freshmen, who should have an immediate impact on the field.

“The nine freshmen have been incredible so far,” said Adrienne Shea ’08, one of Wesleyan’s two captains this year. “They have great skills and all entered preseason in great shape. They brought lots of talent and intensity that made for a very successful preseason.”

Wesleyan already had its first test this weekend when the Cards went to Trinity for three scrimmages in which they went 2-0-1, beating Smith 3-1, Amherst 1-0, and tying Connecticut College 1-1.

“At Trinity the freshmen really stepped it up and showed that they could compete at the collegiate level,” Shea said. “They played with a lot of confidence, which is great to see so early in the season.”

The forward line will be led by Shea and Amanda Nickels ’08. Last year Shea finished with the most goals, six, while Amanda, known for her speed and excellent ball-handling skills, was second with five. Hailey Sarage ’09 will also be a force at forward, as she too showed a knack for finding the net with 3 goals and an assist last season. Also on forward are four freshmen, Natalie Galgano, Jamie Thabault, Alex Bean, and Lila Creighton.

For midfield, the Cardinals will be led by Maddy Rottman ’08 who last season displayed her ability to both create options for forwards, while being an invaluable asset to the defense. She will be joined by returnees Stephanie Brodsky ’09 and Alexa Davis ’10 as well as three freshmen, Liz Gauvey-Kern, Dani St. Pierre and Allie Lynch.

In the back, co-captain Tory Whitney ’08 at center back and Molly O’Connell ’09 will anchor the defense. Elle Celeste ’10 and Caitlin Kent ’10 and Emma Ram ’11 and Hilary Nabhan ’11 will fill out the strong Cardinal defense. In goal, the Cardinals will be looking to Breen McDonald ’10. Although only a sophomore, Breen has already proved herself a consistent and dominating wall in front of the net as she posted a 1.57 goals-against average and a .855 save percentage.

This impressive lineup is led by an equally impressive coaching staff. Head coach Patti Klecha-Porta was recently inducted into the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition to Kelcha-Porta, and returning assistant coach Jen Shea, the Cardinals also welcome a new goalie coach, Lindsay Wasserman ’03. Wasserman graduated as an accomplished student-athlete in both field hockey and softball. As a goalie she started every game of her last two seasons and posted a 19-15 record along with eight shut-outs.

The Cardinals will kick off their season this Saturday at home versus NESCAC and Little Three rival Williams College, whom they lost to 4-0 in their opening game last year.

“Williams is always a really big deal, and everyone knows how important the game is for us,” Whitney said. “We are working as hard as we can to be prepared mentally and physically.” “One of our team goals is to win a Little Three championship, something none of us have done. Williams has a lot of good players and the game will be hard but we are going into it with the mentality that we can, should, and will win.”

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