GENESEO, N.Y. – The SUNY Geneseo field hockey opens the 2016 campaign this Friday with a 7:00 p.m. face-off at Vassar in the opening round of the Betty Richey tournament.
Ninth-year head coach Jess Seren and the squad return following a 2015 campaign that saw the Knights finish with a 10-9 record, including a 4-2 mark in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) regular season that qualified Geneseo for its sixth-consecutive SUNYAC tournament. Third-seeded Geneseo fell to second-seeded New Paltz, 2-1, in the semifinals for the third-straight season.
"Although we graduated some key players, we have a core group of returners who will bring a lot of experience and talent that we'll rely on this season, especially as we face some nationally ranked opponents early on. Our incoming first-year class has been working hard and we're excited about the depth they'll provide us at serval positions."
Seren welcomes back four of her top-five scorers from an attack that led the SUNYAC with 2.89 goals per game.
"Given their speed and skill level, we have high expectations for our offense to produce some solid numbers up front this coming season," said Seren.
Junior Cara Stafford leads the way after a sophomore campaign that saw her finish second in the SUNYAC and first for the Knights with 13 goals and 27 points. Sophomore Gabriella Clare looks to follow up a rookie campaign that included 20 points and seven goals that both ranked second for Geneseo, while junior Giovanna Fasanello is back after garnering All-SUNYAC honors during a season that included 15 points (6 goals, 3 assists) that ranked fifth on the squad after transferring from Division I Central Michigan.
Seren also anticipates senior Amy Fasel (3G, 0A) and sophomore Maria Dillingham (1G, 2A) seeing significant playing time while first-years Elisa Arcara and Erin Nolan will also look to make a difference right away.
Seren will look to All-Region and two-time All-SUNYAC junior Morgan Maley to anchor the middle of the field. Having started every game for the Knights the last to seasons, Maley finished third for the team and 10th in the SUNYAC with 19 points on five goals and a league-best nine assists.
Said Seren, "With our entire starting midfield returning, we will rely heavily on them to control the field of play and be significant contributors on both ends of the ball."
A veteran defensive unit returns for Seren in 2016. Seniors Maria Premo and Liz Doherty return from the starting lineup along with sophomore Tess Necaise, while sophomores Sarah Lilley and Lydia Volpe are also back to bring valuable minutes to the back line. First-years Nicole Arceri, Kristen Bull and Gabrielle Sousa join the squad looking to bolster the group.
"With several seasoned players anchoring our defense, we will look to them to bring elements of consistency and discipline to our back line. Both will be key factors we compete this season against a tough schedule of opponents," added Seren.
Perhaps the biggest shoes Seren needs to find someone to fill were left by the graduation of Dayna Mercer, who finished her career as the program's all-time leader with 474 saves and 42 victories.
"Nicole has done a great job adjusting to our team and stepping into the starting role in goal. We're excited about her performance this pre-season and are looking forward to her strong presence in net this year."