By Julie WoodHoya Staff Writer

After their best season in school history, the Georgetown field hockey team is beginning the 2001 season with high hopes of improving on their first-ever post-season appearance last year.

The team lost only three players to graduation, while gaining seven freshmen.

Although the three graduated seniors, midfielders Sarah Oglesby, Caitlin McLean and Jessica Walls, all made extremely important contributions to the team, the trio was injury-plagued. It was rare over the course of last season that the three were ever on the field at the same time.

“As good as they were, they were never healthy at the same time, so it’s really only like losing two starters,” Head Coach Laurie Carroll said.

The Hoyas are especially looking forward to the return of two of their most important players, sophomore midfielder Elena Elster and junior goalkeeper Jessica Herring. Elster was the team’s leading scorer with 48 points on 21 goals and six assists last season. Herring had 116 saves and six shutouts in 2000.

Although Elster was a defensive back last season, this year she will contribute to the team’s offense as center midfielder.

“She’s a key starter and leader. She’ll be our main distributor, and I hope she’ll touch the ball more than she did last year,” Carroll said.

Looking to take some of the scoring load off of Elster’s shoulders will be sophomore forward Leanne Rizzo. Rizzo was part of the strong corner unit that was responsible for a large portion of the Hoyas’ scoring in the 2000 season.

“She has showed tremendous leadership on the forward line. I believe she’ll be one of our top finishers,” Carroll said.

The forwards will be backed up by the midfield of Elster, senior Aubrey Bruggeman and sophomore Shelby Samperton. Bruggeman is one of the team’s co-captains along with senior back Bridget cConnell.

“Aubrey is a tremendous athlete and a tremendous leader. I see a lot of scoring happening for her,” Carroll said. “Shelby, Elena and Aubrey bring a lot of offense to our front line. So I think we’ll be able to get a lot more scoring done from the field because of their strength.”

The Hoyas’ defensive backs will be their youngest line, and McConnell’s leadership and skill will be invaluable to the defense. Sophomore Lauren Galbally played right back last season and will also bring experience with her. One newcomer to a starting position will most likely be sophomore Nora Mirando, who saw limited time in 2000 but who has shown improvement in preseason play.

The defense will be anchored by Herring, who set some records of her own in 2001. She is now the Georgetown record-holder for wins in a season, second in minutes played in a season and third in both shutouts and goals against average in a season. Herring’s backup in the net will be freshman Melanie Craig.

“[Herring is] just tremendous. She’s not only a great goalie, but also a great leader. I really feel comfortable having two goalies. Melanie has been solid,” Carroll said.

The Hoyas opened last season with eight consecutive wins, making them the last team in Division I field hockey to lose a game. They were ranked as high as 18th in the county.

In 2001, however, they may face some tougher challenges earlier in the season. Georgetown will face William & Mary on the 2001 schedule, who was 12-8 last season and ranked No. 12 on Sept. 8, 2000. On Oct. 24 they will take on Virginia, who was 14-8 and ranked No. 10. The season opener will be at Bucknell tonight at 6 p.m. The Hoyas were victorious against the Bison last season, winning 4-2.

However, Carroll is not concerned with the Hoyas’ opponents this season. “I don’t care who our opponent is. It’s not really about Bucknell, it’s about Georgetown. If we take a step forward from our scrimmages, it should go well,” she said. “It’s all new. We start fresh. It’s a clean slate every year. It’s just focusing on ourselves and just trying to do the best we can on the field.”

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