Jeffs Return Talent and Experience for 2015 Season

Amherst enters the 2015 season looking to build on the success of its 2014 campaign, in which the Jeffs posted a 12-4 overall record and a 7-3 mark in the perennially tough NESCAC.

"We have a talented and experienced group of returners as well as some athletic and skilled first years," said head coach Carol Knerr, who enters her 15th season at the helm of Amherst field hockey.  "We know the results we want to achieve and we are going to stay focused on the process of getting better each day. "

While Amherst will have the difficult task of replacing its five-member graduating class from 2014, Knerr is confident that this year's squad is capable of rising to the occasion.  
"There is a collective intensity and spirit about this group," added Knerr. "We are eager for the challenges that lie ahead this season."
After opening last season 2-2, the Jeffs went on to rattle off 10 straight wins, outscoring opponents 36-5 with six shutouts and six wins versus conference opponents during the streak. Amherst earned the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, but ultimately bowed to Tufts 1-0 in the quarterfinal matchup. The Purple and White will enter the 2015 season as the 11th ranked team in the NFHCA Preseason Coaches Poll.

Despite the graduation of NFHCA All-American Madeline Tank '15, Amherst will return five of its top six point scorers from a year ago. Leading the way is senior tri-captain Annika Nygren '16. Named to the NFHCA All-Region team last season, Nygren led the Jeffs in both assists (10) and points (32), ranking second and fifth in the conference, respectively.

Complementing Nygren as a formidable scoring threat up-front is fellow tri-captain Katie Paolano '16, who will look to build upon her nine points from a season ago.

After a stellar first-year in which she posted four goals and three assists for 11 points, Mary-Grace Cronin '18 will aim to lead the Jeff's underclassmen in scoring once again, while the versatile Mary Margaret Stoll '17, who appeared in all 16 games last season, looks to be a dominant and disruptive presence on the field.

The speedy Sara Culhane '17, gritty Taylor Hallowell '17, and talented Katie Bergamesca '18 round out the front line for Amherst along with newcomer Emery Sorvino '19.

Headlining the midfield will be 2014 NFHCA All-Region selections Annie Turnbull '16 and Elizabeth Turnbull '18. A tri-captain this season, A. Turnbull has started every game in her three seasons with the Jeffs, and her nine assists in 2014 ranked her second on the team and sixth in the NESCAC, while E. Turnbull finished third on the squad in points a year ago with 15 points on five goals and five assists as a first-year.

Amherst will have plenty of depth in the midfield with Caroline Feeley '18 and Sloane Bessey '18 both returning and skilled first-year players Debbie Newmark '19 and Shannon Tierney '19 also joining the fold.

Defensive standouts Caroline Fiore '18, Sydney Watts '17, and Catie Downey '16 all return to a backline that posted eight shutouts and tied for the league lead with nine defensive saves last fall. Effective on both sides on the turf, Fiore notched two goals and an assist last season, earning her a .400 shot percentage that ranked her 11th in the NESCAC.
In her fourth season with the Jeffs, Abigail Rose '16 adds experience to a defense that welcomes newcomers Megan Shea '19 and Kendall Codey '19.

Returning goalkeeper Emily Horwitz '17 will anchor the defensive unit after experiencing success in her first-full season between the pipes. Garnering both All-NESCAC and NFHCA All-Region honors, the junior registered a 10-2 record (five shutouts) while making 71 saves and allowing just nine goals in 889:57 minutes. Her 0.888 save percentage led the nation, and her 0.71 goals against average ranked her second in the NESCAC and third in the country. Surya Adams '18 will act as Amherst's second goalkeeper during the 2015 season.

The No. 11 Jeffs will open the 2015 season on the road against No. 14 Mount Holyoke College Tuesday, Sept. 8. They will return to Gooding Field for a four game home-stand, beginning with reigning national runner-up and preseason No. 1 Bowdoin on Sept. 12, followed by Keene State (9/16), No. 3 Middlebury (9/19) and Springfield (9/22). Amherst concludes September by traveling to archrival Williams (9/26) before returning home to face Castleton (9/29).

October will begin at home for the Purple and White, with games against No. 9 Tufts (10/3) and Conn. College (10/7). The following two weeks will take the Jeffs on the road, with conference games versus Hamilton (10/10), Colby (10/17) and Bates (10/18), and a non-conference matchup with Smith (10/22). Amherst will then wrap-up the regular season with two difficult home games against Little Three rival Wesleyan (10/14) and No. 15 Trinity (10/28).