From school records to All-Conference to All-Region and All-American, it was a banner year for the Mount Holyoke field hockey team in 2013. The Lyons, under the direction of 16th-year head coach Andy Whitcomb, posted an 18-3 overall record. The squad finished second in the NEWMAC with a 7-1 mark, returning to the conference tournament for an unprecedented 15th straight season.
MHC set a number of team and individual records during the 2013 campaign, including fewest losses in a season, most consecutive wins at the start of a season (8-0), longest unbeaten streak (9-0) and longest winning streak in a season (9-0).
The Lyons, whose three losses all came in overtime, advanced to the NEWMAC Semifinals where an eight-save performance from rookie goalkeeper Liz DiCesare pushed MHC past MIT, 2-1, and into the conference championship game for the first time since 2011.
Squaring off against Wellesley for the NEWMAC crown, the Lyons battled the Blue into overtime, falling on a tough goal at the 71:28 mark for a 1-0 loss. Mount Holyoke's only loss during the regular season also came at the hands of Wellesley, a 2-1 overtime decision in South Hadley on September 28.
Despite the narrow loss, Mount Holyoke was selected for an At-Large bid into the NCAA Tournament, its first trip to the big dance since the 2003 season. The Lyons hosted Gwynedd-Mercy University in the First Round, powering their way to a 5-2 win behind goals from four different scorers. The win also marked the first NCAA victory in program history.
MHC continued its NCAA journey in the Second Round, travelling to Montclair, N.J., to face the nation's top-ranked team, Montclair State University. It was a back-and-forth battle in regulation, which saw DiCesare stop nine shots. In the second overtime, the Lyons could not hold off the Red Hawks any longer as the home team scored at the 87:23 mark for the 1-0 victory.
Leading the way for the Lyons was junior forward Diana Banmann, who posted a single-season record in goals with 32 and tied the single-season mark in points with 68. Fellow junior and midfielder Kirsten Kilburn notched 19 goals and a team-best 19 assists for 57 points, while first year forward Charlotte Wagner rounded out the top three with 11 goals and 11 assists for 38 points.
In goal, DiCesare had an 18-3 record, sporting a 1.14 goals against average and a stellar .841 save percentage. She allowed just 21 goals, while stopping 111 shots.
Mount Holyoke opened the 2013 season in impressive fashion, going 8-0. Among the victories included a 3-2 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a 3-2 overtime win against then-#11 Amherst – the first over the Jeffs since 2003 – and a 4-1 victory against Castleton State. The victory over the Spartans helped push MHC into the national rankings as the Lyons were listed 20th overall.
A narrow 2-1 overtime loss to Wellesley halted the eight-game winning streak, but the Lyons rebounded quickly, going on a 9-0 run to set the new school record. Among the victories were critical wins over NEWMAC rivals Clark, Smith, Springfield, Babson, WPI, MIT and Wheaton.
Awards, rankings and honors were plentiful for the Lyons throughout the course of the season, including four Offensive Performer of the Week awards for Banmann and one each for Kilburn and Wagner. DiCesare also garnered Defensive Performer of the Week, while first year defender Ruvimbo Mushavi was a two-time defensive honoree.
Four players were named to the NEWMAC All-Conference Teams, including First Team honorees Banmann and Kilburn. Sophomore midfielder Sarah LaQuerre and DiCesare were Second Team selections. Additionally, DiCesare was the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year.
Regionally, Banmann and Kilburn earned All-New England East Region First Team honors, while LaQuerre and DiCesare were on the Second Team. Capping the honors were Banmann and Kilburn, who garnered NFHCA All-American and ECAC All-Star honors. Banmann was a Third Team All-American and First Team All-ECAC, while Kilburn earned Second Team All-American and ECAC recognition.
The team also finished the season ranked 16th in Division III, never falling out of the national rankings after their September 24th entry into the top-20.
Academically, the Lyons continued to show their dominance as seven student-athletes were tabbed to the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference Team. The team also garnered NFHCA Academic Squad recognition for the 16th-straight season, while 15 student-athletes were named to the organization's National Academic Team. Additionally, DiCesare was named an NFHCA Scholar of Distinction, awarded to student-athletes who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher through their first semester.
• Finished second in the NEWMAC standings
• Earned NCAA Tournament At-Large bid
• Qualified for the NEWMAC Tournament for the 15th consecutive season
• Four student-athletes named to NEWMAC All-Conference Teams
• Liz DiCesare named NEWMAC Rookie of the Year
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-New England Region First Team – Kirsten Kilburn '15 & Diana Banmann '15
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-New England Region Second Team – Sarah LaQuerre '16 & Liz DiCesare '17
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-America Second Team – Kirsten Kilburn '15
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-America Third Team – Diana Banmann '15
• ECAC All-Star First Team – Diana Banmann '15
• ECAC All-Star Second Team – Kirsten Kilburn '15
• NEWMAC Offensive Performer of the Week – Diana Banmann '15 (9/3, 9/16, 10/15, 10/21)
• NEWMAC Offensive Performer of the Week – Kirsten Kilburn '15 (11/4)
• NEWMAC Defensive Performer of the Week – Liz DiCesare (10/28)
• NEWMAC Defensive Performer of the Week – Ruvimbo Mushavi '17 (9/16, 11/4)
• Two ECAC Offensive Player of the Week – Diana Banmann '15 (10/16) & Kirsten Kilburn '15 (11/6)
• ECAC Defensive Player of the Week – Ruvimbo Mushavi '17 (9/17)
• Seven student-athletes earn NEWMAC Academic All-Conference honors
• Team recognized for NFHCA Academic Team honors for the 16th straight season
• 15 student-athletes named to NFHCA National Academic Squad
• Liz DiCesare earned NFHCA Scholar of Distinction Award
Cover photo and pictures of Banmann and Kilburn courtesy of RJB Sports Photography.