Bolstered by a strong returning core, the field hockey team is looking to contend for its first-ever NESCAC title this season. The Jeffs, ranked 14th in the national preseason poll, bring back all three of their All-Region selections, and will look to build off last season’s 12-4 record.
The field hockey program has improved its record every year since 2005; after posting a 5-9 mark (.357) that year, the Jeffs have gone 8-8 (.500), 8-7 (.533), 10-5 (.667), 12-5 (.706) and 12-4 (.750) last year.
The Jeffs enjoyed a stellar 2010 season, capturing third place in the NESCAC behind national powerhouses Bowdoin and Tufts. After starting the season 1-2, the Jeffs won 10 of their next 11 games to close the regular season, then advanced to the NESCAC semifinals with a dominating 3-0 win over Wesleyan in the quarterfinals.
Amherst’s extraordinary season, however, ended abruptly with an overtime loss to Bowdoin in the semifinals. The Jeffs demonstrated great resolve, battling back from a 2-0 deficit in the final 20 minutes.
The Jeffs scorched their opponents with a prolific offense last season, finishing second in the NESCAC in scoring (3.75 goals per game). They will welcome back their top four goal-scorers from last season, including Katie McMahon ’13, who racked up 52 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 16 games.
McMahon, who led the NESCAC in points per game (3.25), also finished the season with a lethal 33.3% shooting percentage, cementing her reputation as one of the league’s elite offensive threats.
The Jeffs will also rely on co-captain Carly Dudzik ’12 to dictate the flow of play in the midfield. Dudzik, a First Team All-American selection last year, has another chance to be one of the best midfielders in the nation.
On the back end, the Jeffs return their top two defenders, co-captain Stephanie Clegg ’12 and Sarah McCarrick ’12. Clegg led the NESCAC last season in defensive saves with five, while McCarrick notched three of her own.
The Jeffs begin their season with a NESCAC match at No. 19 Trinity on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and open at home against Bates on Saturday, Sept. 17. The Jeffs will take on defending regular season champion Tufts in another big game on Oct. 1. The Jumbos have dominated the NESCAC over the past few seasons, going 40-2 since 2008.
Amherst has not scored a goal against Tufts since 2007 (including last year’s 3-0 loss), but they have the offensive potential this year to contend against any team in the league. Later in the season, Amherst will travel up to Bowdoin on Oct. 16, when the Jeffs will try to avenge last season’s devastating overtime playoff loss to the Polar Bears.