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NCAA Field Hockey Season Preview: Division III

With the Division III NCAA Field Hockey season starting in just one week, it can’t hurt to take a look at what happened last season and to predict who might be hoisting the NCAA trophy this November. It's time for the third and final preview in anticipation of the 2023 college season!

Photo by: Will C Images, LLC

Middlebury (NESCAC)

The 2022 campaign was a historic one for Middlebury, as they defeated Johns Hopkins to become the first field hockey team in any NCAA division to win five consecutive championships. The dominance that head coach Katharine DeLorenzo and her Panthers have displayed has been unmatched in recent years. 

With the NCAA trophy in hand, the Panthers finished off their 2022 campaign at 21-1, with their lone loss a 2-1 heartbreaker to Trinity. The defeat broke a 42-game win streak, but did not deter Middlebury in their pursuit for dominance over Division III field hockey.

While we anxiously await the release of Middlebury’s 2023 season roster, it is anticipated that the Panthers will see the return of key playmakers senior Katie George and junior Amy Griffin. Both First-Team All-American selections, the pair led the Panthers offense with a combined 35 goals and 20 assists. On the defensive line, Third Team All-American selection Charlotte Marks is expected to return for her senior season at Middlebury.

 


Johns Hopkins (Centennial)

Representing the Centennial Conference well is Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championship game in 2021, where they fell to Middlebury, 4-1, shattering their bid for a perfect season. When Hopkins faced off against Middlebury in the final this past season, the Panthers didn’t have as easy of a time. In the rematch, the Blue Jays held them scoreless in regulation, only falling during added time.

Two big-name departures from the Blue Jays’ lineup are First Team All-American selections Abby Birk and Anna Scott. However, Hopkins will return several key players such as Second Team All-Americans Mikayla Schoff and Siena Urbanski. They will also bring back both senior goalkeeper Alexis Loder and sophomore Phoebe Williams, who also saw some time in the cage last season. 

 


Trinity (NESCAC)

Last season, Trinity did the unthinkable – they defeated Middlebury. It was the Panthers’ only loss of the season and snapped the nation’s longest win streak of 42 games. Middlebury had their revenge in the NCAA Quarterfinal match when they knocked the Bantams out of the postseason with a 3-0 victory. Overall, Trinity finished up the 2022 season with a 15-5 record, all losses to other New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) teams. The Bantams only lost to one team that they did not defeat another time in the season (Williams).

An anticipated return to Robin L. Sheppard Field is goalkeeper Olivia McMichael, while the Bantams will lose Second Team All-American Caelin Flaherty.

Jessica Bergen steps in as head coach for the Bantams, replacing Anne Parmenter, who retired after 22 seasons at Trinity. Parmenter, a member of the NHFCA Hall of Fame, won over 200 games in her time with the Bantams. Bergen, meanwhile, joins after 11 seasons as head coach at Westfield State University.

 

Salisbury (C2C)

Salisbury is another interesting team as they have been a rung above the competition in their small Coast-to-Coast conference, while also impressing with some big non-conference wins last season. The Gulls finished with an 18-1 record that included wins against Messiah, Johns Hopkins, TCNJ, and Rowan. However, when put up against the power of a NESCAC team – Williams – in the NCAA Quarterfinals, the Gulls suffered a 2-0 defeat.

This fall, the Gulls will need to deal with the loss of a few top offensive performers – First Team All-American and 2022 C2C Player of the Year Allie Davis, and Second Team All-American McKenzie Mitchell. Head coach Dawn Chamberlin will look to secure the Gulls foundation with 12 incoming freshmen, and rely on returning talent such as sophomore McKenna Horner.




Photo by: Brad Wakoff

 Williams (NESCAC)

Despite a 6-4 conference record last season, Williams joined Middlebury as the only other NESCAC team in the NCAA Semifinals. The Ephs downed then-No. 1 Salisbury in the quarterfinals before coming up against Johns Hopkins and falling 1-0 in their final match of the season.

Williams will take a big hit with the graduation of NESCAC Player of the Year Emily Batchelor, who averaged a goal per game last season. In addition to Batchelor, the Ephs will be missing Catherine Torres, an NCAA All-Tournament Team selection who graduated this past spring. NESCAC Rookie of the Year Kiki Higgins will be returning for her sophomore season.

Other teams to watch:

Babson (NEWMAC)

After cruising through the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and winning their second straight conference trophy last season, Babson continued on until they were outmatched, 1-0, by Johns Hopkins in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Beavers finished up their season with a 19-4 record and two All-American selections. Graduate student Brianne McGrath and senior Berit Sharrow, First and Second Team selections respectively, will both be returners at Babson this fall.


 Messiah (MAC Commonwealth)

Messiah is the most recent team besides Middlebury to have won the NCAA trophy, all the way back in 2016. The Falcons then made a run all the way to the Final in 2017, and have had a Second Round or Quarterfinal appearance every year since then. With 15 straight Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth Championship wins, Messiah must be itching for further success at the NCAA Tournament level.


Rowan (NJAC)

Rowan, who hosted the 2022 NCAA Championship, made their own run for the title last season. After they won the New Jersey Athletic Association (NJAC) title, the Profs clinched a first-round bye in the postseason, then made their way through then-No. 16 Christopher Newport and then-No. 5 Messiah to land themselves in the semifinal. Unfortunately for Rowan, they were denied a chance to compete for a title on their home turf by Middlebury —who eliminated them for the second year in a row. It was a solid season nonetheless for the Profs – a 21-2 record punctuated by wins over Johns Hopkins, TCNJ, and Messiah. Rowan’s lineup will suffer a huge hit with the loss of NFHCA Division III Player of the Year Kristiina Castagnola, who will continue to aid the Profs as their first full-time assistant coach.

 

Keep an eye out for the Penn Monto/NFHCA National Coaches Poll preseason rankings, which will be released for Division III on Tuesday, August 29.



Images courtesy of Will C Images LLC/Middlebury Athletics, Johns Hopkins Athletics, Trinity Athletics, Salisbury Athletics, Brad Wakoff/Williams Athletics

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