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Field Hockey Preview: Strong core returns for 2008

All-NESCAC forward Abby Childs will lead the field hockey team as co-captain, along with forward Rachel Greenwood.

Considering the Bates field hockey team returned only three starters from the 2006 season last year, the team showed a good deal of improvement and played well in 2007, according to head coach Wynn Hohlt.

This year, however, the tables are turned: the team graduated only four starters, and many of its strongest players will return.

“My hope always is that we will work as hard as we can to get better as a team, every day that we step on the field. Obviously, we want to qualify for the NESCAC tournament and go as far as possible,” Hohlt said.

The team will derive strength and leadership from senior co-captains Abby Childs and Rachel Greenwood, as well as seniors Rachel Gardner and Emily Sampson. Childs was a Second Team All-Conference and All-Region forward last season, and Hohlt hopes she will continue to produce goals after leading the team with eight last year. Hohlt also expects Greenwood and Sampson to be keys to the team’s success with their speed and goal-scoring abilities. Gardner, a midfielder, improved with every game last season and is solid in the transition game, according to Hohlt, who anticipates seeing her as a force on the attack as well.

Senior back Sarah Blomstedt, who spent the fall semester abroad in Australia, will reunite with her teammates and contribute to the experience of this year’s defense. “Defensively, we will be much more experienced than last season and I expect that the return of Sarah Blomstedt will give us even more stability and organization on defense,” Hohlt said.

The team was disappointed to miss qualifying for the NESCAC Championship last year, but Hohlt saw light in the number of close games during the season, such as the season-closer against Colby that went to penalty strokes. Continuing to play hard consistently is something Bates will continue to work on this year with sights set on qualifying for the postseason. 

“We need to play 70 minutes of fundamentally sound hockey every game. We probably averaged 45 minutes last year and that wasn’t good enough,” Hohlt said.

With the theme of consistency in mind, Hohlt noted that the training won’t change much besides a few little alterations here and there.

“Every year is a bit different and I try to alter some things based on the personality and/or needs of the team,” Hohlt said. “We will probably spend a bit more time in the weight room during the season than we have before. We started our in-season lifts midway through last season and it helped a lot, so that is one small adjustment that will be made.”

Field hockey has traveled internationally in the past. In 2006, they traveled to the Netherlands were they faced several international teams. There aren’t any trips planned for 2008, but next August they will be going to Argentina and plan on doing a lot of fundraising to that end.

“Hockey is a huge sport in most of the rest of the world, so having the chance to expose our players to places where hockey clubs with multiple pitches, and teams of all levels exist in just about every town is very special,” said Hohlt. “The other big reason for these trips is to expand the players’ worlds. Lots of students go abroad at Bates, but for those who don’t, a trip with the team will allow them to see a bit more of the world.”

Until then, they will focus on their play in the NESCAC and region, opening the season with an away game against UMaine-Farmington this Sunday, Sept. 7, at noon. The Bobcats play their first home game on Parents & Family Weekend, Sept. 13 against NESCAC opponent Williams.