2017 Field Hockey Outlook: Under New Coaching Staff, Wooster Ready to Take High-Intensity Attitude to the Field

Under the helm of interim head coach Elizabeth Ford, the Fighting Scots field hockey team looks to build off a strong 2016 campaign that witnessed a three-win improvement from the year prior before finishing at 9-10 overall and 7-7 in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

Ford, who just completed her 12th season as the women's lacrosse head coach, will lead a squad with 11 returning letterwinners, including two familiar faces in sophomore Emma Hambright and junior Rose Taylor, both dual sport student-athletes on the women's lacrosse team.

Junior Maeven Barry tallied two goals and two assists last season.

Already accustomed to the College's field hockey program, Ford served as an assistant coach during the 1998 season and then again from 2005-07.

The Scots will look to maintain their reputation as a stalwart program in the conference and region during the 2000s, having won six conference titles since 2000 in addition to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances between 2008-10.

Under a new set of eyes and with high expectations from the team's veterans, Ford and Co. look to implement an up-tempo playing style conducive to the team's athleticism.

"We're trying to be more aggressive in our game as far as defensively pushing the ball forward and attack wise, keeping up the intensity and applying pressure up front," Ford said.

Seniors Emma Roderick and Lauren Abbott, as well as junior Erika Womack, will captain the squad, representative of each portion of the field.

Abbott, whose contributions continued to progress after becoming an everyday starter last season, matched a career-high with 12 points, totaling five goals and two assists. Looking to step in as one of Wooster's go-to offensive options, Abbott noted the aspects of training that she expects to translate onto the field heading into Sunday's season opener against Wells College.

"Before the season started, we set team goals and one of them was to make sure everything we are doing was with intensity and with a purpose," Abbott said. "Based on practice so far this year, we're going to really start off on a strong note."

Other returnees on the attacking end of play include juniors Maeven Barry, Claire Russ and All-Great Lakes Region honoree Rose Taylor.

Barry tallied two goals and two assists last year and proved critical in close-game situations after scoring the game-winner in Wooster's 3-2 victory over Earlham before providing the winning assist in a 2-1 double overtime victory over Wittenberg.

Russ, who earned playing time as a first-year before moving into a student manager position as a sophomore, will provide valuable reserve minutes while Taylor, coming off an all-region and all-conference season in 2016, will step into a larger leadership role in the midfield after netting four goals and two assists a year ago.

Additionally, Womack – noted by Ford for her speed – scored six goals as a first-year and followed that up with two goals and two assists in 2016. As the sole junior captain, the dual-sport athlete in track & field and field hockey talked about the team's emphasis on the pace of play and "bringing [the players] up to the turf" as the Scots prepare for Sunday.

"I think that's just the evolution of play," Womack said. "We are really progressing as a team and figuring out smarter ways to play and I think it is going to pay off in the end."

In the back alongside Roderick include sophomores Emma Hambright, Grace O'Leary, and Harriet Sudduth in addition to junior Katie Padavick.

Sudduth made an immediate impact, starting all 19 contests as a first-year and increasingly saw time moving forward, marked by an assist against Kenyon. O'Leary played in 17 games, including earning the start in Wooster's 3-2 win over Earlham while Hambright provided reserve minutes in seven appearances.

Padavick, who turned into an everyday starter after logging 12 starts as a first-year, came in clutch in a variety of ways, most notably with her two defensive saves in the Black and Gold's 5-4 overtime victory over Oberlin last October.

As for Roderick, the veteran continues to be a staple in Wooster's backfield, having started all 58 games of her collegiate career. The senior back totaled two defensive saves last year and six the season prior.

In goal, junior Lida LeVine returns after starting 17 games last season. Competing alongside LeVine for the starting position include sophomore Madi Thomas, who logged her first collegiate win in Wooster's 5-4 overtime win against Oberlin, as well as first-year Katie Shideler.

When asked about her expectations and goals for the team this year, Roderick noted everyone's "willingness to give 100 percent in everything that we're doing."

"I'm excited about the new freshmen and the new coaching staff. Everyone seems enthusiastic and ready to go," Roderick said.

The Scots open the season at John P. Papp Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 3 against Wells College at 11 a.m.