By Kaylee Lindenmuth
One game, and one goal. That is what stood between the KU Golden Bears and the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Field Hockey tournament in 2016.
With two coaches and two objectives for 2017, the team hopes to build on the momentum of 2016’s 10-8 record by focusing on what they can control and by employing a “team-first” mindset.
With new faces on the coaching staff including Bernville native Morgan Firestine and Kutztown native Anna Behm, coupled with the return of seniors Courtney Konowal, Madison Stewart and Micaela Beaty, the Bears may be poised to overcome the loss of leading goal scorer Megan Tiwold after her graduation in May to contend for a playoff spot.
However, a run at a conference championship will be an uphill battle, as the PSAC is consistently one of the top conferences in the nation in field hockey, with its teams earning the last four NCAA Division II Championships.
KU Head Coach Marci Scheuing, in her fifth year at the helm, believes that the experience of the team’s seniors will prove to be beneficial this season.
“Out of the seven seniors, six of them have started a lot of games for us over their careers. There’s a lot of experience there, so hopefully we can use this veteran experience. In my time here, we’ve been a young team… With the experience that they have I hope they can use that and come out and have a good year,” said Scheuing.
Two of those seniors will be expected to step up to fill the shoes left by the graduating forward Tiwold. All-PSAC Second Team forward Madison Stewart scored seven goals and four assists in 2016, and tri-captain Madison Wampler scored four goals last season, both of whom are expected to continue to grow and improve this season.
Sophomores Kyra Wozniak and Rose Moore are also worth keeping an eye on. Wozniak made a single start in 2016 and appeared in 15 games, scoring three goals, while Moore appeared in 17 games, recording two shots and one shot on goal.
At the Midfield position, you will find three-year starter, Courtney Konowal. The senior has never missed a game in her career, and looks to earn four All-PSAC honors, to become the first since Erin Reynolds (2010-2013) to accomplish the feat.
In her freshman season, Konowal was named to the All-PSAC second team, and earned third team honors in her Sophomore and Junior years.
Konowal scored four goals and 11 points in 2016, good for third on the team in both categories.
Two others to watch at Midfield this season would be senior Micaela Beaty and sophomore Mackenzie Fuhrman.
Beaty has appeared in all but four games in her field hockey career at KU, recording an assist in a game in 2016, while Fuhrman scored two goals in her 16 starts.
In the backfield, senior defender Morgan Aldinger, along with junior defenders McKenna Conselyea and Lauren Latchford, will look to keep senior tri-captain goalkeeper Chardonnay Hope.
Aldinger has started in 52 of 55 games in her KU career, recording three goals and four defensive saves in 2016, while the two juniors have shown promise in the spring, as the coaching staff looks to fill starting positions on the defense.
Hope is coming off her first season as starting goalkeeper, where she ranked fourth in shutouts in the PSAC and fifth in saves and saves-per-game. Last season, she held a 1.23 goal against average, earning 7th in program history.
The home field at KU could play a factor this season as well, as Andre Reed Stadium was outfitted with new Sprinturf over the summer.