NEWBERRY — The Newberry College Wolves have 14 of their players returning to the pack with 10 newcomers for first year head coach Hannah Dave.
Dave is entering her first season as the head coach after two spurts as the interim head coach for the program. She is a former four-year starter at Limestone where she was teammates with new assistant coach Rachel Gormonozi.
Dave and Gormonzi have this relatively young team anxious to begin the season, with their first game being at home. They will host eight games at Setzler Field: Seton Hill, Mercy, Converse, Queens, Bellarmine, Lindenwood, Belmont Abbey, and Limestone.
Dave is looking forward to the season, referencing the great competition that the Wolves will face. “Bloomsburg will be an exciting game for us since we beat them in 2015 with a score of 2-0. They were ranked fifth in the nation and it was our first top five win. Limestone will always be a huge game that I look forward to. And, of course Lindenwood is always an exciting game since my sister plays there so our house is divided into two.”
Five of those home matches are against Eastern College Athletic Conference teams, with Newberry competing in ten conference matches this season.
“I am also looking forward to all of our conference games we are looking to clinch a spot in the post season tournament,” Dave said. “All our conference games are going to be great competition for us, and having more competition around us creates some great rivalry feels. Our girls are working really hard with a chip on their shoulder to clinch a spot into the tournament.
This is a complete turnover of players for the program, as the first full senior class graduated last year after the 2016 season. Coach Dave and this 2017 roster are charged with maintaining the Wolves way of playing field hockey while putting their own stamp on the program.
The overarching theme for the Wolves this year is to play fast.
“Train how you want to play. Our focus is that we are striving every day to get better. In the last couple years as a program we have made great strides, and are looking to exceed last year’s program records all over,” Dave said.
Of the 23 on the roster, 14 of them are returners from last year. Some key returners include Kristyna Oyola, Mariah Lee, Elise Utne, and Olivia Franufelter.
“We have a very talented group of sophomores returning who are all huge key players and have really stepped up on the field as leaders,” said Dave. “They have a natural field hockey IQ and their chemistry on the field is very exciting, I have high expectations for this group.”
Several freshmen to watch out for on the field this season are Dominique Milian, Chantel Gauthier, and Farai Kawonde.
“Milian is going to be a huge key player on our back line. She has a very high field hockey IQ and natural defensive abilities. Gauthier going to another key player, she is very fast and smart with the ball and is also a very versatile player. Kawonde will be key in our midfield. She is a great team player, and has a natural midfielder mindset.
This fresh-faced Wolves team will open their season at home on Setlzer Field against Seton Hill Sept. 1.