NEW LONDON, Conn.--The Connecticut College field hockey team will host top ranked Middlebury College in its conference opener Saturday at noon.
Under the direction of Head Coach Chrissy Needham, the Camels made great strides in 2015, posting victories in four out of their last five outings, trimming their goals against average by a full goal from the previous season. Needham returns 19 players from the 2015 roster. Many of those players saw significant minutes in key situations as starters or reserves.
The Camels have contended for playoff berths in each of the past two seasons, falling just short. But with seven first-year players joining a solid nucleus that's already in place, Connecticut College could be ready to take the next step this fall.
Needham's squad will be led by tri-captains Ryley van der Velde, Bryn MacGillivray and Jacquelyn Murphy. Senior goalkeeper Van der Velde posted 63 saves a year ago. The senior from the Blue Grass State of Kentucky has held down the starting role as a leader in each of the past three seasons and is entering her second season as captain. MacGillivray enters her second year as captain. MacGillivray tallied seven points in 2015 with three goals and an assist. Junior back Murphy will anchor the Camel defensive unit. Murphy has started every game of her collegiate career and registered four defensive saves a year ago to rank third in the conference. She will be involved in both offensive and defensive penalty corner units and had an assist in the season opener against Babson College.
Sophomore Jamie Navoni had an immediate impact on the forward line, scoring five goals in a productive rookie campaign. Lauren Hirshom was equally impressive as a defensive standout in the midfield. Junior forward Colbi Vaillancourt scored two goals and assisted on two others as a key offensive contributor a year ago.
Needham welcomes two new assistants to the staff in 2016: Melanie Wojick and Kristy Norbert. Wojick holds a bachelor's degree in Marketing from ECSU, where she was a two-year captain for the field hockey team. Norbert holds a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in Communications from Northwestern University, where she was a four-year member of the field hockey team, including a team captain in her senior year.