SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University field hockey team welcomes a talented group of rookies for the 2016 season which has raised the level of play for the entire team including two returning All-Capital Athletic Conference performers from a year ago and a group of six seniors who will lead the team into the new year.
"We're really excited about what our new players are going to be able to do for us and what they're going to do for the future of this program," Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin said. "We're young, and for the most part inexperienced, but we're talented, so it's exciting."
The Sea Gulls will open the season on Thursday, September 1 at Washington (Md.) College, looking to begin a campaign that will advance the program to its 32nd NCAA tournament appearance.
Salisbury lost its top two goal scorers from a year ago, but Chamberlin always has the next players ready to go and 2016 will be no different. Seniors Abbey Shobe and Becca Rinaca will be called upon, with Shobe making a move up to the forward line from midfield a year ago.
"Abbey has one of the hardest shots I've ever seen and she's a very fit and physical player and she's hungry to score," Chamberlin said. "We're hoping that she can help fill one of those roles."
Shobe posted eight points from the midfield last year with three goals and a pair of assists, while Rinaca is the team's top returning scorer, having found the back of the cage 10 times and adding three assists for 23 points a year ago.
The outside players on the forward line will be a large group that rotates through, and the battle for the starting positions will lead up to the final days of preseason with, junior Natalie Wilkinson, sophomores Emily Lemanski, Kristen Yingling, and Catherine Sweeney, and freshmen Tara Daddio, Paige Twilley-Webster, and Rachel Domanico all competing for time.
"Hannah was really key to our success on the field last year," Chamberlin said. "She is a very vocal leader, as well as leading by example and is the take-charge person out there. She keeps everybody on task and we're really looking forward to her having a great senior year."
Miller had four goals and four assists last season for 12 points while Preisch had a pair of goals and five assists for nine points.
"Casie is our offensive midfielder," Chamberlin said. "She has a wicked shot and great stick skills. She's not afraid to shoot in there on attack and get things going for us. We're looking forward to her playing a dual role for us."
Freshman Arielle Johnston will get the start on the left side of the midfield this year.
"She's an outstanding player. She's coming in and playing strong-side midfield for us," Chamberlin said. "She's very skilled and plays beyond her experience.
With a shift in formation this season, Todd will move from a sweeper position to the right side, while Brittingham will patrol the middle as a center back, and be the go-to charge person on defense.
Another member of that talented freshman class, Jillian Hughes has made a name for herself, and will get a starting nod this week.
"She's had a phenomenal preseason and she's earned herself a starting position," Chamberlin said. "We're looking forward to what she can do for us. I've been really excited about Jillian since I first saw here and she's a great player. She's got quick hands; she's very poised and very steady."
The current sophomore class has made large strides since their freshmen year and two of the players who look to see time both in the midfield and on defense are sophomores Madison Angulas and Emma Vicchio.
Junior Tressie Windsor is back to anchor the defense, after a season in which she had a 0.94 goals-against average, which ranked 12th in Division III. After off-season surgery her participation was limited in the spring, but is ready to go for the 2016 season.
"We were a little concerned about how she might come in, but she worked really hard on her rehab, she's looked really good and we're excited about what she's going to do back there this year," Chamberlin said.
Windsor will be pushed by returning sophomore Eliza Pauk as the pair competes for time in the net.
The 2016 season opens on Thursday with the first of five-straight games away from Salisbury before returning home for a September 17 contest against Cabrini College for the team's first game in the new Sea Gull Stadium.
Salisbury will host preseason No. 3 The College of New Jersey on September 24 and open the CAC schedule on October 1, in a Homecoming showdown with the University of Mary Washington.
The regular season concludes on October 26, as the Sea Gulls travel to Wesley College prior to the start of the CAC tournament on October 30.