In 2011, a new brand of field hockey will take shape at Elms College led by first-year head coach Kim Cosenza.
The Blazers return five players from their 2010 squad including junior goalkeeper Alexandra Bonavita (Agawam, Mass.) who was named First Team All-New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) last season. Ranked third on the program's all-times saves list, Bonavita will have three returning defenders in front of her including senior Emily McInerney (Glastonbury, Conn.), junior Rachel Butt (Agawam, Mass.) and sophomore Julie Hurley (Palmer, Mass.) as well as sophomore midfielder/defender Brianna Lyons (Canton, Mass.).
Those five returners will be joined by a group of 19 newcomers that include a pair of sophomores and 17 freshmen. Despite the youth in the squad, the 2011 version of the Blazers is talented and is poised to make an appearance in the NECC Championship tournament.
Here is a snapshot of the team by position:
The attacking third of the field will be comprised of several new faces including sophomore Kaitlyn Casado (Westport, Mass.), and freshmen Yvonne Urbanowicz (Holyoke, Mass.), Tatiana Frizzell (Brattleboro, Vt.), Ashleigh Lamoureux (Stafford Springs, Conn.), Meghan Goodrow (Sunderland, Mass.), and Emma Morgan (Wakefield, R.I.).
With limited playing experience, Elms' forward unit will quickly learn the speed of the college game and will look to its midfielders and defenders for support and transition.
Lyons returns to patrol the midfield following a productive debut season and will be a source of wisdom for the Blazers' newcomers.
She will look to pave the way for sophomore Kayla Narey (South Hadley, Mass.), and freshmen Elizabeth Patient (Leicester, Mass.), Meghan Costello (Agawam, Mass.), Kelly Martin (Enfield, Conn.), Ashley Reid (Enfield, Conn.), Imogen Leonard (Sharon, Mass.) and Hannah O'Brien (Granby, Conn.).
Elms' experience will sit with its defensive unit as two-year starter McInerney and Hurley will anchor the Blazers' defensive third of the field. Joined by Butt who played well last season, Elms welcomes freshmen Rachel Schrutt (Chicopee, Mass.), Alyssa LaMonica (Salem, Mass.), Kelsey Rix (Warwick, R.I.) and Bridget Lynch (Middleborough, Mass.) who will each provide added depth to an already time-tested group.
Bonavita recorded 213 saves in 2010 including a 27-save performance against Daniel Webster College en route to earning All-NECC accolades for a second consecutive season.
She will look to blaze a trail for freshman net-minder Alysha Parsons (Newington, Conn.) who will make her debut defending the cage in 2011.
In addition to playing a competitive schedule that includes several local opponents, among them Smith College and Westfield State University, the Blazers will also play their NECC slate which now includes new members Anna Maria College and Regis College. During its 15-game regular season, Elms will host eight contests at Leary Field, five of which will be held during the month of October.
With a new coach and a wealth of new faces, a new era of field hockey at Elms is about to emerge.