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Field hockey eyes championship repeat
This season, the Quinnipiac field hockey team will have a lot of new faces, but that doesn’t mean that the Bobcats have lost talent. Despite graduating eight seniors and bringing in 10 freshmen, Quinnipiac has been chosen to finish first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason coaches’ poll.
Quinnipiac edged out Monmouth and Rider in the preseason rankings. The Bobcats received 32 points and three first-place votes. The Hawks followed with 28 points and two first-place votes, and the Broncs finished in third with 27 points and a single vote for the top spot.
“It was pretty unexpected, but we are very proud of it,” head coach Becca Main said.
This was the first time in 20 years that the Bobcats have been predicted to finish first in conference play.
Last year, Quinnipiac won the conference championship in their inaugural season in the MAAC, defeating Robert Morris in the conference finals. The Bobcats eventually fell to American University in the NCAA tournament play-in round.
Goalkeeper Megan Conaboy, forward Danielle Allan and defender Megan Osanitsch received preseason all-MAAC honors. The three seniors look to fill the void of the leadership that graduated last season, including the program’s scoring leader Jess Rusin.
“The three of them are playing with fear, but they have turned that fear into motivation,” coach Main said.
Conaboy was selected to the second all-MAAC squad last fall and received MAAC Co-Goalkeeper of the Year honors. In her junior season, Conaboy put up a 1.89 goals against average and a .740 save percentage to go along with a 14-7 record.
Allan received second team all-MAAC last season and first team all-NEC the year before. The forward put up 23 points, with nine goals and five assists. She currently sits eighth on Quinnipiac’s scoring list with 56 points.
Osanitsch will be the anchor of the defense this season. Last year she started in all 21 games, and recorded eight points and a defensive safe.
Despite losing such members of the championship winning squad, the Bobcats are still confident in the roster they have.
“Last year we had a solid unit of veterans, but I don’t think we have missed a beat this year,” Conaboy said. “I like to be an underdog, but I do believe that we are the best team in the MAAC.”
A big reason the Bobcats are confident is because of the talent the newcomers bring into the team’s system.
“I’ve been really pleased with the basic skills that the freshman have brought to this team,” Main said.
One freshman that has impressed Main is Isamarie Ramos. Ramos is the youngest member of the Puerto Rican national team, helping them win two gold medals in the Copa Olimpica and a bronze medal in the Copa Invitacional. Ramos also played at Southern Lehigh High School in Pennsylvania, and led her team to three district titles and one conference championship.
“Isa is a well-rounded athlete and we look forward to working with her elite conditioning skill set to become a strong field hockey player,” Main said.
With the exhibition on Sunday, the Bobcats finished their two-game preseason stint on a strong note. Quinnipiac had strong performances against both New Hampshire and Connecticut, and worked hard everyday in practice, according to Main.
“Today put the icing on the cake of a good preseason,” Main said.
Both the coaches and the players realize there is now a lot of pressure that comes with defending a title.
“We now have a target on our backs, but if we keep that target moving, we will be all set,” Main said.