Sticking With a Freshman
Field Hockey Preview
The talent, the experience and the determination are all there.
So, too is the freshman.
And the dreams of this year's Harvard women's field hockey squad may kings as much on the performance of the freshman as on the talent, experience and determination of the upperclass-laden squad.
The freshman is goalkeeper Kristin Abley and she's been thrust right into the spotlight, thanks to the graduation of a four-year starter and the absence of any viable alternative.
How quickly the Connecticut native matures into a collegiate goalie could hold the answer to whether the squad will finally win its first Ivy title.
Just three years ago, the Harvard stick-women were on the bottom of the league standings. Two years ago they finished just one and a half games out of first place and last year just one-half game but.
The rapid rise to Ivy League prominence is no accident. In seniors Ellen O'Neill and Andy Mainelli, Harvard's got two of the finest players anywhere.
And this year marks the return of senior Lili Pew, one of the Crimson's finest field hockey players two years ago but absent from last year's squad because of a knee injury.
Elsewhere, Harvard may boast more firepower than its over had, and that's the reason that Crimson Coach Edie Mabrey admits "that if we're going to do it, we're going to do it this year."
But if they're going to do it, it appears for now anyway, that they're going to do it with a freshman goalie.
Abley was almost impeccable in her debut Saturday, holding the University of Vermont to a single score in Harvard's 2-1 season-opening victory.
"I think she was scared to death," Mabrey said of new netminder, "but I felt she was good enough to start."
If there's ever a need, Mabrey will call on junior attacker Bambi Taylor to move from the field to the goal.
But Mabrey is hesitant to sacrifice Taylor's firepower, despite the return of last year's top five scorers.
Mainelli should lead the Crimson offense this year. The senior attack started off the 1984 season in style, scoring both goals Saturday.
If there's a problem with this year's squad, which will struggle Penn, Dartmouth and Brown for the league crown, it's that it has had trouble with its shooting. The offense can generate good scoring opportunities, but whether it can convert these chances into goals with regularity remains to be seen.
As long as Abley can keep the goals out with regularity though, the Harvard squad shouldn't be too far from the top.