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Marcy Busch '02
Senior tri-captain Marcy Busch

2001 Field Hockey Season Preview

August 29, 2001

After a school-record 13-1 regular season, the 2000 Amherst field hockey team not only earned its second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, but also the honor of hosting one of the tournament's four regionals on Hitchcock Field. Amherst, national finalists in 1999, finished the regular season ranked fourth in the nation according to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, and joined Lebanon Valley College, Rowan University and Springfield College as the four host seeds in the tournament's 18-team draw.

In its regional semifinal, Amherst faced a familiar opponent in 12-4 SUNY-Cortland, which joined Amherst as the two surprise teams in the 1999 NCAA Final Four after stunning Lebanon Valley in the regional finals, before Amherst knocked them out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory at the College of New Jersey. However, the visiting Red Dragons exacted revenge in 2000 with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Amherst, before falling to Williams Smith College, 3-2, in the regional final.

With the loss, Amherst finished with a stellar 14-3 record, its second-best finish in program history, despite playing the last five games without injured senior co-captain Gretchen Bowe, the NESCAC Field Hockey Player of the Year. A two-time NFHCA All-American, Bowe - who was also a First-Team All-Region, All-ECAC and NESCAC All-Academic selection in 2000 - posted a team-high 19 points on seven goals and five assists as Amherst's lone senior. She was a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week and the conference's 11th leading scorer despite suffering a season-ending knee injury in the second half of a dramatic win over Williams in the squad's 12th game of the season.

With an experienced roster of veteran players, Amherst is poised for a trip to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament. The 2001 team returns 21 players in all, including a trio of decorated seniors in All-American tri-captain Mairin Brady, All-Region goaltender Beth Sensing and All-NESCAC defender Laurie Smith.

Brady helped lead Amherst to the semifinals of the NESCAC Tournament and the team's third NCAA bid with five goals, four assists and three defensive saves in the squad's 14 regular season games. Also a First-Team AstroTurf/NFHCA All-Region and All-NESCAC selection in 2000, Brady - who was named to the 1999 NCAA All-Tournament team along with the graduated Bowe - added an assist in the Jeffs' 2-1 win over Middlebury College in the first round of last fall's NESCAC Tournament and finished the season as the squad's third leading scorer behind junior standout Abigail Ouimet.

Sensing, a Second-Team All-Region pick and an NFHCA National Academic Squad selection after allowing just 10 goals in 17 games, was the second leading goaltender in the NESCAC with 89 saves, an 89.9 save percentage, six shutouts and a 0.60 goals allowed average. Meanwhile, Smith tallied a pair of assists despite being a mainstay on the Amherst defense, anchoring a unit that never surrendered more than one goal in a game en route to only seven goals allowed during the 2000 regular season with seven shutouts.

Amherst also returns two of its most prolific scorers in Ouimet and senior tri-captain Marcy Busch and will receive a defensive boost from senior defender Anne Close and junior defenders Molly O'Connor and Kristin Harrison. Just a junior, Ouimet was the team's leading goal producer last season with eight scoring strikes, while Busch finished a point behind Brady as Amherst's fourth leading scorer with six goals and two assists. On defense, Close and O'Connor paced the team with five and four defensive saves, respectively. Senior Robin Ackerman should provide added scoring punch at forward after a two goal, three assist season in 2000.

Amherst kicks off a challenging regular-season slate at conference rival Colby College on Sunday, September 9, with its home opener scheduled later that week on Wednesday, September 12. The 2001 schedule includes nine conference matchups in the second year of formal league play in the NESCAC, including a September 29 home tilt against defending NESCAC Champion Bowdoin College and a pivotal road game at archrival Williams on October 13.