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NESCAC Season Preview

NESCAC Season Preview

Last weekend Middlebury, Trinity, Williams, and Wesleyan half kicked off the start of the 2008-2009 season for the NESCAC schools. Middlebury downed rival Williams 5-1 and Trinity hung seven goals on Wesleyan en route to a 7-1 win over the Cardinals. Finally, this weekend all 45 Division III womens teams will have played their first games of the season when Colby, Connecticut College, and defending NESCAC champion Amherst all take the ice for the first time.

Amherst Lady Jeffs

Head Coach: Jim Plumer (71-50-12) 6th season
Last years Overall Record: 20-4-4
Last years NESCAC Record: 12-0-4 (2nd)
My Projected Finish: First
Coaches Poll Projection: First

Key Losses: Megan Quinn, Elizabeth Ditmore
Key Returnees: Courtney Hanlon (15-20-35), Tarasai Karega (15-13-28), Lindsey Harrington (8-13-21), Krystyn Elek (1.33 GGA, .940 Save %), Kirsten Dier (3-11-14)
Newcomers to watch: Josie Fisher, Stephanie Clegg

Middlebury Panthers

Head Coach: Bill Mandigo (372-94-16) 21st season
Last years Overall Record: 19-4-3
Last years NESCAC Record: 13-0-3 (1st)
My Projected Finish: Second
Coaches Poll Projection: Second

Key Losses: Karen Levin, Lacey Farrell
Key Returnees: Annmarie Cellino (13-30-43), Randi Dumont (8-10-18), Molly Vitt (7-11-18), Erika Nakamura (13-10-23), Anna McNally (19-18-37)
Newcomers to watch: Maggie Melberg, Grace Waters, Jamie Harisiades

Trinity Bantams

Head Coach: Andrew McPhee (49-78-9) 7th season
Last years Overall Record: 18-5-3
Last years NESCAC Record: 10-3-3 (3rd)
My Projected Finish: Third
Coaches Poll Projection: Third

Key Losses: D-Erin Fitzgerald, D-Ali Schmidt, F-Emmy Handy
Key Returnees: G-Isabel Iwachiw (1.14 GGA, .958 Save %), F-Kim Weiss (15-12-27), F-Michelle Chee (12-11-23), D-Kelley McCarthy (2-10-12)
Newcomers to watch: Celia Colman-McGaw, Brigitte Cellino, Hannah Harvey

Colby Mules

Head Coach: David Venditti (106-73-20) 9th season
Last years Overall Record: 15-9-3
Last years NESCAC Record: 8-5-3 (4th)
My Projected Finish: Fourth
Coaches Projection: Fourth

Key Losses: Gen Triganne, Lauren Goethals, Marissa Mullane, Caroline Voyles
Key Returnees: Becky Julian (18-15-33), Laura Anning (18-12-30), Lacey Brown (2.08 GGA, .934 Save %), Stephanie Scarpato (9-11-20), Amanda Comeau (8-11-19)
Newcomers to watch: Marissa Simmons, (Milton Academy) and Brittany Kirby, (Taft)

Bowdoin Polar Bears

Head Coach: Stacy Wilson (6-12-6) 2nd season
Last years Overall Record: 5-12-6
Last years NESCAC Record: 2-8-6 (7th)
My Projected Finish: Sixth
Coaches Projected Finish: Fifth

No Report.

Conn. College Camels

Head Coach: Kristin Steele (37-108-19) 8th season
Last years Overall Record: 7-14-4
Last years NESCAC Record: 5-8-3 (5th)
My Projected Finish: Fifth
Coaches Projected Finish: Sixth

No Report.

Hamilton Continentals

Head Coach: Brendon Knight (17-29-6) 3rd season
Last years Overall Record: 6-15-4
Last years NESCAC Record: 4-8-4 (6th)
My Projected Finish: Seventh
Coaches Projected Finish: Seventh

Key Losses: Jodi Raymond, Lauren Tomford (transfer to St. Olaf)
Key Returnees: D. Kate Marek (3-4-7), F. Kathryn Kroleski (9-6-15), and D. Rachel Rapoza (0-7-7)
Newcomer to watch: Meredith Bitterman

Williams Ephs

Head Coach: Shannon Bryant (73-108-12) 9th season
Last years Overall Record: 5-17-2
Last years NESCAC Record: 3-12-1 (8th)
My Projected Finish: Eighth
Coaches Projected Finish: Eighth

Key Losses: Caralyn Quan
Key Returnees: Tracey Ferriter (8-9-17), Joey Lye (3-6-9), Sam Tarnasky (10-11-21)
Newcomers to watch: Sara Plunkett, Hannah Systrom

Wesleyan Cardinals

Head Coach: Jodi McKenna (5-17-1) 2nd season
Last years Overall Record: 5-16-1
Last years NESCAC Record: 1-14-1 (9th)
My Projected Finish: Ninth
Coaches Projected Finish: Ninth

Key Losses: Julia Kazmers and Adrienne Shea
Key Returnees: Hannah Jackson (6-11-17), Rachel Stemmerman (3.14 GGA, .918 Save %) and Sena Ito (7-5-12)
Newcomers to watch: F. Julia Mulhern, F. Jill Reynolds, and D. Rebecca Snelling

Analysis

The NESCAC is going to be one of the most intriguing conferences this season to see how things pan out. Amherst and Middlebury are the established favorites and matched each other game for game last year for the most part.

The Lady Jeffs return their top eight scorers from last season along with All-American goaltender Krystyn Elek between the pipes giving head coach Jim Plumer plenty to look forward to this season.

Middlebury lost three of their top ten scorers from last season so I have to give Amherst the slight edge as of right now. However, the Panthers 1-2 punch of Anna McNally and AnnMarie Cellino returns this season, which should strike fear into every opposing goaltender.

After Middlebury and Amherst, you have Trinity who had an outstanding breakout season last year under Andrew McPhee. The Bantams had a banner season behind the great goaltending of Isabel Iwachiw and the timely scoring of Kim Weiss, Michelle Chee, and Britney McKenna and with all four returning, Trinity will look to take the next step up and beat Middlebury and Amherst.

Colby made headlines last season as they knocked off Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinals. The Mules got off to a rough start last season but really turned it around down the stretch and will be an interesting team to watch this season if they can keep up their success. Colbys Becky Julian and Laura Anning rival Middleburys dynamic duo as one of the best in the nation.

After the top four its pretty much anybodys guess. Will Bowdoin and Williams return to their once powerhouse form after struggling last season? Can Hamilton squeak out a few more wins this season after many tightly contested match-ups last year where they found themselves on the short end of the stick?

The snow is starting to fall and shortly we will be kicking the 2008-2009 season into high gear. Strap in and get ready for what is sure to be a roller coaster ride in not only the NESCAC but also the entire Division III nation!


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