As the weather cools down, fall sports teams are excited to enter the heart of their season. A number of contests have already taken place between New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and Liberty League opponents, leaving Blue cross country, field hockey and golf teams hopeful about the season’s prospects.
The cross country team is looking to make big gains this fall both in and beyond the NEWMAC competition. To get there, the Blue took full advantage of the preseason during which they worked to establish a foundation for the year ahead.
“We all want to improve as runners individually, but if we can do it together as a team, it makes the process even more exciting,” Nicole Chui ’15 said. The Blue opened their season earlier this month at the Smith Invitational where they placed third of 16 and first among NEWMAC competitors.
“Our goals are to maintain and build on the team’s tradition of success,” Coach Phil Jennings said, “particularly at our championship meets [Seven Sisters, NEWMACs, National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Regionals], with the ultimate goal of gaining a team bid to the NCAA Championship meet.”
Last fall, the Blue finished second in the NEWMAC Championship, falling to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who has won the past seven titles.
This year, the team boasts a great balance of talent in each class, starting with first years Clare Salerno, Taylor Fortnam, Isabella King and Lili Considine who all finished in the top half of the field at Smith.
“This year’s team is made up of a greater number of people who have bought into the idea that they can realize their potential abilities. There is also a stronger dose of the competitive spirit that is necessary for races,” said Mary Keenan ’17.
The Blue welcomes back key runners Taylor Bickford ’15, All-Conference Sonja Cwik ’17, Keenan and All-New England Priyanka Fouda ’16. Teams to beat in NEWMAC this fall will be MIT, Coast Guard, Wheaton, Mt. Holyoke and Smith. The Blue will race again this Saturday in the Wellesley Invitational.
The golf team, which competes in the Liberty League conference, hopes to see big improvements in the season ahead. After falling to Division II Merrimack earlier in the month, the Blue finished 11th in a tough field of 12 at their second tournament hosted by New York University last weekend.
Until the Liberty League Championships in April, the Blue will compete in a handful of invitationals across the Northeast before taking a break from competition in mid-October.
To get ready for upcoming matches, the Blue’s preseason focused on integrating players through team bonding activities and preparing returning athletes for competition. After a fourth place finish in the Liberty League Championships last spring, Coach Sherry Makerney hopes to improve to a top three finish this April.
“We have five new members and four returners, so it’s a very young group,” Makerney said. The first year lineup includes Kathleena Inchoco, Samantha Lanevi, Jacqueline McMahon and Emily Smith. In addition to these athletes, the Blue welcomes new Assistant Coach Jack Palley to the golf program. As for returners, the team will benefit from the experience of three veteran scorers,. Jacqueline Lu ’17, Haneen Anbarserri ’15 and Lei Wei ’16, who has led the team in both 2014 matches. This weekend, the Blue will head to South Hadley to compete in the Mount Holyoke Invitational.
The Blue field hockey team is off to a flawless 5-0 start to the 2014 season, winning its first set of games by no less than a 5-goal margin. The strong performance is characteristic of Wellesley’s nationally competitive field hockey program.
Last fall, after winning the NEWMAC championship, the Blue advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in Maryland, where they fell to Salisbury University. Since then, the team has lost two seniors to graduation and added a strong pair of first-year recruits: Emmy Hamilton, who already has two goals to her name, and Fallon Oeser.
Consistent with their number 13 national ranking, the Blue’s early success can be attributed to a wealth of veteran players and a great balance of talent on both ends of the field.
“Each player has an important role, and the ability for us to not rely on a single player and depth on the bench makes us a very competitive team,” Co-captain Nathalie Gruet ’15 said. Some notable returners to the Blue’s 19-woman squad include a handful of All-Region players, Hannah Flesch ’16, Anissa Sridhar ’16 and co-captains Meghan Peterson ’15 and Gruet who additionally earned first-team All-American honors last fall.
Forward duo Flesch and Gruet have led the team’s offense in its first five contests, combining for 18 of the Blue’s 38 total goals. In the backfield, the Blue has allowed only 9 shots on goal in five games, thanks in part to the strong performance of Dana Marks ’15, who was recognized last Monday as the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week. The Blue will kick off NEWMAC play this Saturday at Wheaton College.