As West Chester’s only Division I team, there is always a tremendous amount of pressure on the women’s field hockey team. Selected to finish fifth in the Atlantic-10 conference this season, the Lady Rams will look to build on last year’s strong finish. With a brutal non-conference schedule which includes Penn State, Rutgers, Towson, and defending national champion North Carolina, the team will look to use the conference schedule to help earn a birth in the coveted NCAA Division I postseason.
Head coach Kathy Krannebitter, entering her twenty-third season atop the Lady Rams field hockey team, leads a relatively young roster that includes seven seniors. She has led the team to six A-10 playoff appearances in the last 11 seasons.
On the field, senior co-captain Lauren DuBois will help lead the offensive charge. Last season DuBois finished fourth on the team in goals scored and total points. Helping DuBois on the offensive end will be second- year standout Alex Swayze, who finished third on the team as a freshman with five goals and 12 points.
In the midfield are two of Dubois co-captains and fellow seniors, Marissa Holzman and Jacki Eddy. Holzman placed fifth on the team in points with five a year ago and Eddy finished the 2007 campaign with three points, good for eighth on the team. Helping these two in this area are Donna Doubet and Bethany Wong. Wong, a junior, is considered the anchor of the midfield as she is a two-year returning starter.
On defense, Desiree Walker is the senior captain. She tied Eddy for eighth on the team with three points last season, an impressive total for the defender. Joining her on defense is Emily Smith, the only returning defender from a year ago.
Joelle Zarefoss and Brittany Harding are the rocks of the defense as they guard the goal. Last season in 17 games, Zarefoss had 107 saves while Harding saved 17 shots in limited duty. A third goal keeper is quickly approaching as well, as Emily McNiff is a name to keep an eye on as the year’s progress.
Three freshmen to keep an eye on this year include Kate Zunski, Kristen Foore, and Alyssa Gallen. All three will be looked upon over the course of the season to grow and learn the college game and be vital assets in both the present and future of the team. All three will be asked to be big pieces in the Golden Ram attack.
Zunski is the leader of the freshman bunch but Foore is right up there with her. Foore has played under the spotlight before, as she was a member from Pennsylvania state runner-up Palmyra.
A fourth freshman to watch is Zunski’s fellow club team member, Leah Angstadt who will be asked to fill a variety of roles.
Seven seniors and four freshmen make up 11 of the 28 members of the West Chester women’s field hockey squad. But all 28 must contribute for the team to get back to the postseason and make its mark as West Chester’s lone Division I sports program. Should they accomplish that, the school would undoubtedly rally around a team of that magnitude. But no pressure, just field hockey.
Mike Heiman is a fourth-year student majoring in elementary education with a minor in literacy. He can be reached at MH606613@wcupa.edu.