Aug. 25, 2004

PHILADELPHIA - With seven starters and 15 letterwinners back in the fold, including Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year Nicole Antonini, an A-10 title is within reach for head coach Michelle Finegan's charges in 2004.

"I think we have a really solid team," touts Finegan. "We're older and more experienced. There is less of a newness this year and that will really make a difference."

Seniors Shannon Scott, Angela Hanna and Annie Harkins anchor the veteran squad. Having reached the A-10 tournament in each of their first three seasons, the trio would like nothing better than to close out their careers with a berth in the title game and a conference crown.

Scott and Hanna have started every game they've played since ariving on Hawk Hill. Often overlooked because of defensive postures, their consistent high-level of play have earned them reputations as among the A-10's most underated performers.

A two-sport standout, who also plays lacrosse, Scott is a versatile midfielder. The adept stickhandler serves as the stop on the Hawk corner unit and has become more offensive-minded over the last year, placing second on the squad in assists in 2003.

Hanna usually inherits the job of locking down the opponent's top scoring threat. Quick with the stick, she has an uncanny ability to neutralize offensive rushes with timely stick checks.

A solid frontline performer, Harkins combines a unique set of intangibles that make her a team leader both on and off the field.

With better than 90 percent of the team's scoring returning intact, putting the ball in the back of the cage shouldn't be a problem for the Hawks. Antonini headlines a dynamic frontline that should emerge as one of the region's best.

A First Team All-A-10 and All-Philadelphia selection, Antonini burst onto the scene as a freshman. She topped the squad with nine goals and 21 points. The savvy stickhandler, who was named to the National All-Rookie Team, has a knack for finding the back of the net, but also serves as the push on the team's corner unit.

Additional offense will come from a quintet of dangerous scorers, including junior Katelyn O'Brien, sophomores Lauren Luft, Julie Lentz and Maryann Reis and senior Katelee Zapolski.

An All-Philadelphia selection, O'Brien returns after a breakout sophomore season. A tremendous athlete, she led the team with five assists and finished second with six goals and 17 points.

Likely to secure positions on the flanks are a couple of speed burners in Luft and Lentz. Luft finished third on the team in scoring last season. A high-energy player, she has feisty attitude in the circle. Lentz, who doubles as a sprinter on the SJU track team in the offseason, is a sleek speedster, who also has a nice touch around the net.

Reis may be a more refined stick handler and better distributor than her counterparts. Zapolski is an experienced frontline performer with good speed.

Joining Scott in the midfield, a couple of transfers, sophomore Maureen Casserly and junior Jackie Aronchick, should make an immediate impact. An All-State selection at Camden Catholic, Casserly had a solid freshman season at Ohio University. More offensive minded, she will look to push the ball and distribute. A rock in the middle, Aronchick spent two seasons at Lafayette and has a more defensive mindset.

Two others who should see significant time in the midfield are juniors Emily Mannion and Shelley Meier. Both are solid two-way performers.

Hanna will anchor the backline, but two others, junior Hilary Moody and sophomore Charlsie Agro should both see plenty of action. Moody is a solid one-on-one defender, while Agro has a big drive and could develop into a weapon in corner situations.

Goalkeeper will be a question mark for the Hawks as redshirt sophomore Jill Stracko is slated to take over for two-year starter Courtney Huff in the cage. Freshman Rebecca Cunfer will also vie for time.

In addtion to Cunfer, four other newcomers most likely to contribute right away are Theresa Barbati, Brooke Henry, Leagh Rogers and Katie Young. Young and Henry are both All-Area performers and competed in the National Futures tournament. Barbati was a first team All-Conference selection and Rogers received all-state recognition.

Samantha Freeman, Meredith Lucey, Maura McCall and Brianne Miller round out the roster.

Despite its youth, the 2004 Hawk Field Hockey team has plenty of experience and expectations are high. Featuring an explosive attack and steady backline the team's quest for an A-10 title could come to fruition.