After a 2005 season in which the field hockey team set school records for both wins (10) and goals (44), the program looks to continue its assent up the Ivy League standings with the addition of the recruiting class of 2010.
Freshmen Natalie Appelton, Carolyn Franco, Kelley Kantarian, and Katie Kirnan join a talented but young squad that boasts 18 underclassmen.
“We had an exceptionally large class [last year],” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “It was sort of a one time thing that we’d bring in such a large class. This year we’re trying to average the class out.”
Entering her third season with the Red, Hornibrook has already taken the squad from a last place Ivy finish in 2004, to a fourth place showing last year. With a speed-focused offense and a smothering team defense, the Red’s 10-7, 4-3 Ivy record last season was the teams first above .500 in Ancient Eight play over the last six years.
“It was a good season, but this season’s going to be challenging because we definitely have a tougher schedule and I think we’ve lost the element of surprise,” Hornibrook said. “We set the program record for goals scored, and we have some good young forwards, but I really feel like our team defense and our commitment to that had a lot of baring on our scoring because we scored a lot on counter attack opportunities.”
Among the recruits, Appleton will look to have an immediate impact on a backfield captained by regional All-American, sophomore Belen Martinez.
“[Appleton’s] a very steady player with great vision, good stick skills, and she comes out of a program in British Columbia which produces the best field hockey players in Canada,” Hornibrook said. “She’s a player that I really think will help us out immediately.”
Also looking to break into the backfield will be Franco, an All-State player out of Doylestown, Penn., whose field vision and on-the-ball skills, Hornibrook feels, will also make her a likely option in the midfield.
“She is a really smart player with excellent stick skill,” Hornibrook said. “She’s a pretty skilled field hockey player as a freshman.”
Both Kantarian and Kirnan will look to make an impact offensively for the Red, joining an attack led by first-team All-Ivy sophomore Alyssa DePaola.
Making the four-hour move from Rye, N.Y., Kantarian has impressed the coaching staff with her preseason workouts.
“The work ethic, attitude, fitness level, and mental toughness that she’s shown are really impressive, and again as a freshman, you don’t often see that,” Hornibrook said.
Boasting several first-team accolades from her New Jersey prep days, Kirnan also looks ready to fit into the Red’s offensive system.
“Kirnan is really impressing us right now with her stick skills, and she’s got just a lot of little tight skills that you don’t often see from a freshman. She’s got good quickness, so I think she’s really going to be a player that develops into a key performer for us over her career,” Hornibrook said.
While Hornibrook feels these four freshman all have the opportunity to compliment the team, she also made sure to note the importance of the team’s upperclassmen — led by senior co-captains Sarah Miller and Lindsay Moyer — in providing leadership and direction for the team.
“We are a young team and the five upperclassmen that we have, have that burden of leadership on their shoulders. They have the maturity and the team commitment to lead us.”