TOWSON, Md. — Goucher's field hockey team made some big strides in the 2014 season – winning five more games than the previous year resulting in its first winning season since 1995 with a 9-7 record.
Led by fourth-year head coach Megan Williams, the Gophers look to add to their recent success.
"The 2014 season raises our set of expectations for this year," Williams said. "We were able to all get on the same page with our fitness, mental toughness, skill, and ability. That has generated a lot of excitement into this season."
Excitement sure is bubbling around the field hockey program as the Gophers have 19 returners, three of which being seniors. On top of that, Williams welcomed seven new faces to the squad as freshmen.
"Right now we are still a young team," she said. "Due to our roster size, we are able to scrimmage full field which makes it competitive at practice."
"We have a very athletic and quick recruiting class. They're gelling really well with the upper class teammates and will get the opportunities to contribute to this team."
The Gophers offense will be one to watch in 2015. Last season, 12 Gophers combined for 37 goals. Lizzie Barminski (Ventura, Calif./Buena) tallied six goals while Rachel Crain (Charlotte Hall, Md./Chopticon) notched five in their sophomore year. Though, the 2015 offense will be more diverse than years before.
"We have players that can contribute on penalty corners, in fast breaks, and during different plays throughout the game," Williams commented. "The scoring will be widespread and the girls will have a lot of opportunities to get on the board."
Goucher's defense continues to get better year after year. Led by Danielle Hallacker (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Twp.), Emily Jewell (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch), and Sarah Cost (Waterboro, Maine/Massabesic), the Gophers allowed less than 13 shots per game. They look to lower that even more.
"Danielle knows the game really well and is a great vocal presence on the field," Williams said. "It's nice to see we have a defensive system in place that is easy for everyone to learn."
Another strong point for Goucher has been goalkeeping. The Gophers have three solid options in Demie Huffman (Granville, Ohio/Granville), Liz Zengel (Smithfield, Va./Smithfield), and Quiche Johnson (Baltimore, Md./Bryn Mawr).
"We expect to continue our trend of allowing fewer goals, fewer shots, and having some strong goalkeeping in the back," Williams said.
The Gophers got over the first hump last season and Williams knows her girls are ready for another ride.
"Our goal is to make it to the (Landmark) conference tournament," she said. "It's realistic for us and we are all poised to do it."
After a stretch of non-conference games to open up their 2015 season, the Gophers will host their first Landmark Conference game of the season against Moravian on Sept. 26.