2003 Season Outlook August 2003

With an influx of talented freshman and the return of two regional All Americans sidelined by injury in 2002, Coach Gia Fenoglio Cillizza expects much from her 2003 squad.

"We are much more mature than last year," Cillizza says. "We have a larger percentage of players with major playing experience this time around and some great freshmen."

The Cardinals went 6-11 under first-year Head Coach Cillizza, with six of its losses by just one goal. Two of those were especially tough -- overtime battles with Johns Hopkins and Eastern Mennonite, both top 20 schools.

In Cillizza's first year as head coach, Tricia Hines was named first team All-Capital Athletic Conference, and Rebecca Clark earned second team honors. Meanwhile, 14 of the team's 19 members made the 2002 NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad. Catholic University tied Springfield College and Wellesley College with 14 qualifiers apiece, ranking third highest in the 118 DIII field.

In 2001, CUA went 16-4, earning consistent rankings in the national Top 20 NFHCA poll and finishing as the runner-up in the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Region postseason tournament. The team posted the most wins and best single-season winning percentage in the 31-year history of field hockey at Catholic University.

"2001 put us on the map, no doubt about it," Cillizza says, "and our off-season work will undoubtedly help us reclaim a top spot in the conference."

On and off the field, Cillizza will look to her senior class -- Renee Desrochers, Megan Hartnett, Tricia Hines, Sondra Pires and Stephanie Roselle -- for leadership and stability. "The seniors are such a talented, formidable bunch on the field," Cillizza says. "There won't be much that will stand in their way."

Cillizza also notes her faith in Co-Captains Hines and Desrochers, whom she says have already energized the team with their commitment to enthusiasm and determination.

In the backfield, Desrochers, a hardworking defender, and Pires, a tough regional All-American, will serve as anchors. Junior goalkeeper Erin Swift, who will step into a starting role this year, will back them up. Assisting them will be junior Katie Boylan and sophomores Kerry DiIulio, Katie McCarthy and Tara Rutledge. "I'm very excited about the combination of Desrochers, Pires and Swift. They each have excellent leadership, communication and defensive skills," Cillizza says. "I'm eager to see what they can do."

In the midfield, Hines, a three-time All-CAC honoree, will be relied on for her fine stick handling, game sense and leadership abilities. She's joined by Hartnett, an experienced ball feeder and versatile sophomore Kathleen Langan

On offense, Roselle, a speedy CAC all-star and regional All-American, and junior Becky Clark, team leader in goals, points, game-winning goals, and shots on goal in 2002, will lead the charge to the goal. Joined by sophomores Jamie Punyko, a highly skilled and tenacious player, and Christy Engstrom, a hard-charging attacker, the forward line will be a potent attack. Sophomore Melissa Schneider, who saw action last season, will assist them.

And Cillizza expects much from her rookie class, several of whom will see action. "We nabbed some major talent as well as players with enormous potential."

The incoming class includes freshmen forwards Christina Athanasiades, Megan Barker and Kate McGovern; midfielders Dana Connolly, Kelly Davies, Jayme Dinsmore, Kelli McErlean, Mallory Meehan and Megan Payne; and defenders Maureen Brady, Lauren Carroll, Kirsten Dansbury, Paige Kirlin, and Eileen Wixted.