LEICESTER, Mass. – Changes to the landscape of the New England Collegiate Conference for the 2019 Field Hockey season certainly makes predicting the top teams difficult, but one element from that landscape with few changes is the Hawks roster.
Entering the season, Becker returns five All-Conference players, including the NECC Player of the Year, senior defender Samantha Carter (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) and Goalkeeper of the Year, sophomore Victoria Pilpel (Germantown, Md.).
Team captains and seniors Amy Cooper (Monument, Colo.) and Lauren Niemann (Bay Shore, N.Y.) also return for the Hawks. Fellow senior Katherine Bernier (Dudley, Mass.) rounds out the group of 2018 All-Conference returners.
"I think we're expecting some high intensity from our players," said Cooper. "Everyone seems very dedicated and we all have our heads in the game, and we know why we're here."
The changes come in the form of a new, fully stocked group of opponents who have merged with the NECC to create an eight-team conference.
Becker, along with foes Dean, Elms, and New England College welcome Husson, Thomas, and UMaine Farmington from the North Atlantic Conference to account for seven programs. Manhattanville, formerly of the Middle Atlantic Conference, rounds out the eight-team field.
"There's some tough competition coming in, definitely tougher than we've seen in the past," said Niemann. "I think we're just going to come in strong, play to our caliber, and hope that we can rise to the occasion."
The Hawks bring back eight players in total from last season to go along with five new recruits. After a season off, now-senior Jocelyn Lebel (North Grafton, Mass.) returns for one year, rounding out the 14-women roster for 2019.
Kayla Quinn takes over as head coach for the Hawks and hopes to improve on the 8-10 record from last season.
"There's going to be some tough competition and all the games are going to be something we have to fight for," said Quinn. "We are going to come in strong every game and these girls are ready for the challenge."
Becker placed tied-fifth in the NECC Preseason Poll looking up at Thomas, Husson, New England, and Manhattanville ahead of them.
The Hawks open their season on Friday, August 30 with a 4:00 p.m. game at Lasell University. The August start is only the second time in program history the team has played in August with the other occasion coming in 2014, a 1-0 win against Mount Ida.