YORK, Pa. – Coming off their most successful campaign in
recent memory, the York College field hockey squad opens the 2010
season looking to carry that momentum.
The Spartans put together a terrific 14-8 mark in 2009, just one win shy of their program high of 15 wins set back in 1998. On the heels of that success, the Green and White garnered five All-Capital Athletic Conference bids, the highest total in the history of the program.
"We had a very good year last season," Spartan head coach Jamie Swartz said as she enters her third season at the helm of the program. "Now we have to build on that. We have to keep improving and moving forward with what we are doing as a program."
And move forward they must.
The departure of five outstanding seniors, three of which were All-CAC performers, leaves the Green and White with several holes to fill in 2010.
"The players we lost from last season will be difficult to replace," Swartz said. "No doubt about it. They were terrific players who gave a lot for the program. However, I believe that we have players here right now that will be able to take the next step individually so that we can take the next step as an entire program."
Swartz's optimism stems from the return of seven starters from a season ago, including the Green and White's top two scorers in 2009.
In the attack, seniors Katie Dawkins and Allison Roush form an outstanding 1-2 punch that should provide the Spartan squad with plenty of fireworks throughout the season. Dawkins had a breakout year in 2009, totaling a team-best 18 goals while adding a trio of assists, en route to her first appearance on the all-conference list. Her combination of speed and finishing ability give York a constant, dangerous threat in the offensive third. Roush proved herself once again as one of the top offensive players in the conference. She notched eleven goals and a team-high 12 assists last season, the second-straight year that she posted double-digits in assists. For her efforts, Roush landed on the All-CAC squad and will look for a repeat, or even improved performance in 2010.
"We have tremendous offensive capabilities with Dawkins and Roush," Swartz beamed. "They feed off of each other and play together so well. They know what they want to do around the cage and are able to get it done."
Bolstering the Spartan forward corps are senior Kelly Kreamer, sophomores Sandee Reich and Jayme Goldkind, and freshman Kailey Brewer. Kreamer, who possesses an outstanding team-first attitude, adds quality experienced depth to the York's front-line. Reich begins her sophomore campaign after a strong freshman season and has the potential to become one of the conference's top offensive players. Goldkind begins her second season looking to push for additional playing time while providing excellent depth. Brewer enters the collegiate ranks with the ability to make an immediate impact and give the Spartans another scoring option.
"Within our entire group of forwards we have good quality," Swartz said. "Each of them brings something different, something positive to our team that will help us be a success this season."
Through the midfield, the Green and White sport an exceptionally experienced squad. Seniors Casey Lawrence and Becky Reeves as well as junior Brittany Simmons give the Spartans a midfield unit that has been through the rigors of the collegiate game. Lawrence is a steady and consistent player who, as a captain for 2010, will also be called upon to be a tremendous leader. Reeves, another Spartan captain who will be looked upon for leadership, brings intelligent play to the lineup while her calm demeanor provides York with a soothing presence when under fire. Simmons is a smooth student-athlete who possesses quality stick skills and plays well either in the defensive or offensive third of the field.
Rookies Jillian Brezgel and Kirsten Bridgers add quality play to the midfield unit. Brezgel is a quick and athletic player that could find her way on the field sooner rather than later while Bridgers is a youngster that will look to develop throughout the year.
"Our midfield is going to be one of the strengths of our team," Swartz said. "We have a number of options here and I am confident that we will find the right combination."
The defensive unit looks to be a young yet talented corps. Leading that young back line will be junior captain Colleen O'Rourke. O'Rourke posted an outstanding 2009 season as she became one of the top defenders in the CAC. An exceptionally fit and athletic player, O'Rourke also uses intelligent positioning and quality timing to thwart opposing attacks.
Joining O'Rourke in the back are Danielle Gaitings, Jessica Estevez, Ashton Burk, Courtney Rice, and Erica Arantowicz. Gaitings, a sophomore, was a valuable asset to the defense last season as she appeared in 16 Spartan contests while drawing three starts. After a strong offseason, Gaitings should be prepared to assume a regular starting job in 2010. Estevez gives York's defense experienced depth and should be able to improve her game throughout the year. Burk begins her time in the Green and White as an athletic and aggressive player who should be able to make an impact in her first season with the program. Freshman Courtney Rice is already a terrific communicator from the back line and could push for early minutes while fellow rookie Erica Arantowicz adds even more depth and will look to develop and improve as a freshman.
"With what we have in our defense, I think we could be tough back there," Swartz said. "Obviously there are some things that we have yet to figure out but with the overall level of talent in the back we could be a very tough team to score on."
In the goal, the Spartans will turn to one of three talented yet unproven netminders. Senior goalkeeper Maggie Schlauch is the early favorite to nab the #1 spot as her combination of experience and spirited play give the Spartans quality in the cage. Sophomore Lydia Pirie, who will look to battle for the starting nod, is a dedicated goalkeeper who is committed to improving her overall game. Alanna Curtis, a Spartan rookie, brings a strong fundamental base that could allow her to push York's pair of returning netminders in 2010.
"We have three goalkeepers that will continually push each other throughout the year," Swartz said. "That consistent competition should bring the best out in each one of them which would be a great thing for our team."
Despite the easily apparent individual talent on this season's roster, Swartz still knows that the Spartans will need to come together as one in order to continue their upward climb in the always tough CAC.
"We have to gel and build a strong team chemistry if we expect to successful this season," Swartz noted. "Although our collection of talent is good, the players coming together as one unit is going to be the key in making our season a success. That is going to be a major focus of ours as he head out on this journey in 2010."
And that journey officially begins on Wednesday, September 1, when the Spartans travel to Alvernia University. York battles the Crusaders in a 7:00 p.m. under-the-lights contest to open the 2010 campaign.
"This is going to be an exciting year for us," Swartz concluded. "We could do a lot of positive things that will allow us to become one of the top teams, one of the top programs, in the Capital Athletic Conference."
Allison Roush photo courtesy of Scott Guise