BABSON PARK, Mass.—Coming off a historic 2016 campaign that culminated with a trip to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, the Babson College field hockey team is primed to continue its success this fall.
OFF THE TOP
Under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Julie Ryan, the Beavers return 15 players from a team that finished 21-3 overall and went unbeaten in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play en route to claiming the league's regular season and tournament titles. The Green and White hosted one of four NCAA regionals and defeated St. John Fisher and Franklin & Marshall to become the first women's program in school history to reach the Final Four.
Junior Ashley Tango (Reading, Mass.), the reigning NEWMAC and National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) New England East Player of the Year, and classmate Lauren Drakeley (Woodbury, Conn.), the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Year, were the only sophomores in Division III to earn NFHCA All-America first-team honors in 2016.
FIREPOWER UP FRONT
The Green and White returns its top four scorers from a team that tied for fourth in Division III with 88 goals last fall. Tango finished with 19 goals and 13 assists for 51 points, while senior Elise Towers (Cicero, N.Y.) added career highs of 19 goals and 45 points. Fellow senior Jacki Merrigan (Canton, Mass.) had a breakout campaign with 11 goals and four assists for 26 points, and Drakeley (6-11-23) finished second on the squad in assists. Junior Catherine Gilman (Cohasset, Mass.), who missed 12 games last fall, finished with 19 points as a first-year in 2015 and owns four career game-winning markers.
Babson returns four starters from a defense that led the country with a school-record 15 shutouts and finished third in Division III with a 0.70 goals against average. Drakeley is joined by three-year starter and senior captain Jessica Kelley (Lincoln, R.I.), and fellow senior Julie Mortimer (Spencer, Mass.) who started all 24 matches after moving to outside back last fall. Sophomore goalkeeper Deirdre Barry (Longmeadow, Mass.) posted 12 shutouts to go along with a 0.68 goals against average and a .706 save percentage in 23 starts. Senior Elena Bartholomew (Westwood, Mass.) has seen action in 36 career matches as an outside back, while sophomore Haley Pesce (Roxbury, Conn.) should see an expanded role on defense and in the midfield.
MAKING THEIR MARK
Junior Brielle Schafroth-Bach (Portsmouth, N.H.) and the sophomore quartet of Carla DiBiase (Winchester, Mass.), Cate Diamond (Hingham, Mass.), Kate Driscoll (Milton, Mass.) and Tori Roche (North Andover, Mass.) all saw action in at least eight contests last fall and will be counted on as the Beavers look to replace five seniors. Schafroth-Bach and Driscoll each scored twice in 2016, while Diamond made four starts in the midfield.
The Beavers have five first-year players from five different states that are hoping to make an immediate impact on the field.
Babson, which has won 17 of its last 19 games against conference foes, will take on five non-conference opponents that made the NCAA Tournament in 2016. The Green and White has dates with Skidmore, Tufts and Middlebury in the opening month of the season and will take on both the University of New England and Montclair State in late October.