The Castleton field hockey team returns nearly its entireStephanie Paproski core from the 2010 season and looks to continue its run of recent success in the North Atlantic Conference in 2011. The Spartans bring back 18 players from a team which reached the semifinals of the NAC Tournament before losing 2-1 in overtime to NAC Finalist St. Joseph’s.
This year Head Coach Tammy Landon will rely on her experienced group to put Castleton in position to win the program’s second NAC title. “Every year we expect to compete for the conference championship and 2011 is no different. Our returners came back this fall ready to go and the size and quality of our roster gives multiple options for each position.”
Landon had the highest scoring offense in the NAC last year and should have a number of options when it comes to her front line, as four of the team’s top six scorers return in 2011. Junior Kealy Chipman (Bellows Falls, Vt.) finished as the team’s top returning scorer last year with 13 goals and six assists for 32 points, tied for fourth in the NAC.
Sophomore Rachel Preusser (Craryville, N.Y.) made a splash in her first year on campus as she was just one of two freshmen in the NAC to earn all-conference recognition after tying for the team lead with 14 goals and also adding one assist.
Junior Corinne Healy (Jefferson Township, N.J.) and sophomores Blake Wardwell (Bridgewater, Vt.) and Gabriel Sikora (East Montpelier, Vt.) will also be counted on to provide some scoring for the Spartans. Healy played in 11 contests last year and scored three times while also adding an assist. Wardwell appeared in 16 games, netting six goals and dishing out a pair of assists for 14 points while Sikora scored twice in six contests last season.
In the midfield, Landon will rely on the leadership and skills of Stephanie Paproski. The senior has played in all but one game over the past two seasons and last year scored three times and dished out five assists for 11 total points. She will be joined in the midfield by a solid group of players which include juniors Mercedes Maltbie (Warrensburg, N.Y.), and Caitlins Briggs (Germantown, N.Y.) and sophomores Brynn Cayia (Berlin, Vt.), and Shawna Pinsonault (Windsor).
Leading the defense this fall is senior goaltender Bridget Dusha (Greenwich, N.Y.). As a backup last season, Dusha played in nine games and made one start for the Spartans. She finished with a 1-0 mark and recorded a .788 save percentage, allowing just 11 goals while stopping 41 shots.
In front of her, Dusha has a pair of sophomores who started all 19 games a season ago in Stephanie Bardell (Erwinna, Pa.) and Shannon Burns (Wayne, N.J.). Also seeing time on defense will be Stacey Sullivan (Bridgewater, Conn.), Amanda Flodstrom (Stratham, N.H.), Madyson Martin (Wantage, N.J.) and Alex Sears (Cornwall, Vt.).
In preparation for the team’s NAC schedule, Landon sought a tough non-conference slate to challenge the Spartans. Castleton opens the season at home with Skidmore on Sept. 7, a team ranked seventh in the National Field Hockey Coaches (NFHCA) DIII pre-season poll. The Spartans also take on Middlebury, ranked 10th in the NFHCA, before opening their NAC schedule against New England College on Sept. 21.