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Bethany Field Hockey Ready for Return to Field in 2012

Aug. 30 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College women’s field hockey program will officially become the 22nd varsity sport at the school when the Bison open the 2012 season Sept. 1st with a road game at Oberlin (Ohio) College.

This will mark the first time since 1989 a varsity field hockey game has been played at Bethany and the Bison will be led by first-year head coach Stephanie Bernthal. Prior to arriving at BC, she was an assistant at Christopher Newport (Va.) University and had a late start with her new team. Shortly after being hired at Bethany, Bernthal, who was in charge of fund raising with the Christopher Newport program, honored her commitment by accompanying the team to London to watch the 2012 Olympics.

After coming back to the states just before official practice began, Bernthal had a short amount of time to get know who would be on her roster this year. Her Bison team will be very young from top to bottom with 11 of the 15 players on the roster being freshmen. Despite her late start and the extreme inexperience on the roster, Bernthal says the team is taking strides towards the Sept. 1st opener.

“Our preseason camp has been good,” said Bernthal. “We have been making solid progress. With such a young roster, we are focusing on building fundamentals and setting a strong foundation.”

The Bison will have to rely on one goalie this season in freshman Jacqueline Harrison (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa), who is already showing signs of being a solid leader. The defense in front of her will feature the team’s lone senior in Taylor Fleegle (Lusby, Md./Patuxent), as well as freshmen Courtney Snyder (Bristol, Pa.) and Racheal Nolan(Union Bridge, Md./Walkersville). Other possibilities to help out on defense include junior Ashlee Needy (Chicago, Ill./ Marist) and freshman Anne Taylor (Lancaster, N.Y./Sacred Heart Academy).

“Jacqueline is working very hard as our only goalkeeper,” said Bernthal. “She is showing good leadership and communication, which will be important in steering us in the early stages of the season.

“The defense is getting strong leadership from our only senior Taylor,” said Bernthal. “As a group, the defense is showing a strong initiative to take on concepts and making strides to apply what they learn to game play.”

The midfield will be an area to watch, as Bernthal says their play will key the team’s progress this season. A trio of freshmen in Danielle Maddex (Eden, N.Y.), Caitlin Belbin (Hampton, Va.) and Courtney Gill (Little Egg Harbo, N.J./Pinelands Regional) highlight this group. Needy and Taylor may also slide up from defense to chip in here, while freshmen Brigit Andrewsh (Dickson City, Pa./Mid-Valley) and Claudia Ferman (Dumfries, Va./Hylton) could also provide depth.

“The midfielders have done a good job of connecting from defense to attack and setting up plays,” said Bernthal. “The midfield play will be very crucial to our success this season.”

Bethany will look to sophomore Kadie Kelly (Royal Oak, Md./St. Michaels) to provide experience and maturity to a young forward line, which includes freshmen Kaitlin Perch (Hackettstown, N.J.) and Taylor Solomon (Beltsville, Md./Elizabeth Seton). Gill and Ferman could also see time up front, as Kelly will likely contribute heavily in the midfield as well.

“We have great scoring threats at forward and they are connecting well amongst each other so far,” said Bernthal. “We just need to continue refining their skill set.”

Bernthal and the Bison’s main goals this season will be to continue building and taking strides through this first season and use the knowledge gained to set the stage for bigger things to come in future years.

“We really want to work towards being better students of the game and gain experience throughout the year to build the program for the future,” said Bernthal. “Having such a young roster provides challenges in the present, but it is exciting for the future. It’s a good place to start building towards where we want to be in the near future."