Under the direction of 19th-year head coach Andy Whitcomb, the Mount Holyoke College field hockey team once again established itself among the best in the NEWMAC, returning to the conference tournament for the 18th straight season. The Lyons posted a record of 12-7, going 5-3 in NEWMAC play.
It was a rough start to the season as MHC dropped its first two contests to Rensselaer (3-2) and nationally-ranked Amherst (4-3) on the road. The Lyons returned home, grabbing their first win of the season, in a 6-2 win over Castleton on September 10. Senior forward Charlotte Wagner set the tone for what would be another outstanding season, recording three goals and an assist in the victory.
Following a tough 3-0 loss to NESCAC-foe Williams, Mount Holyoke rebounded with road wins against Thomas (2-1) and Wesleyan (4-0). Wagner and sophomore midfielder Mirjam Keochakian powered the Lyons offense with six and four points, respectively.
Mount Holyoke concluded September with another tough battle against long-time rival Wellesley, falling 1-0 in overtime, but bounced back quickly to open October. The Lyons went on a four-game win streak, which included victories over NEWMAC-rivals, Clark (5-1), Smith (3-2) and Springfield (2-1). Offensively during the streak, MHC saw multiple-point efforts from Wagner, Keochakian, sophomore midfielder Colby Newsham, junior forward Sophie Perekslis and junior middie Kathryn Rawson.
The Lyons streak was snapped in a loss at Babson, but picked up once again the following week with victories over WPI (3-2) and Western New England (4-1). Seniors goalie Liz DiCesare and Ally Tessier each picked up wins as DiCesare's two-save effort helped best the Engineers, while Tessier recorded a pair of stops against the Golden Bears.
A 2-1 mark over the final three games of the regular season helped seal MHC's 18th straight appearance in the NEWMAC Tournament. The Lyons, who were the fifth-seed, traveled to a familiar foe in fourth-seeded Wellesley. The two teams, who had squared off in each of the last three championships games, battled to a 1-1 score through regulation, but it was the Lyons who came out on top as junior forward and captain Kaitlin Braz scored with 11:11 remaining in overtime to lift MHC to its fourth-straight NEWMAC Semifinal appearance.
The Lyons returned to Babson the following weekend, squaring off against the top-seeded Beavers for the second straight season in the Semifinals. MHC, who had upset the home team in 2015 on its way to the 2015 NEWMAC Championship crown, was unable to get past Babson this time. The Lyons fell by a 1-0 margin to the Beavers, who went on to the NCAA Division III Semifinals.
Leading the way for the Lyons for the second straight season was Wagner, who tallied 16 goals with eight assists for a team-best 40 points. She added 87 shots, including 57 on goal, with four game-winning tallies. Wagner finished fourth in the NEWMAC in goals, points and shots.
Keochakian and Perekslis tied for second on the team with 19 points each. Both notched six goals and seven assists on the year, with Perekslis posted two game-winning tallies. Newsham added 13 points, including five goals (three of which were game-winners) and three assists, while Braz rounded out the top five with three goals and three assists for nine points.
Defensively, the Lyons were led by senior captain and blueliner Ruvimbo Mushavi, who led the team and was third in the conference in defensive saves with four. Rawson, who also had three goals and an assist on the year, added three defensive stops.
In goal, DiCesare, also a captain, saw the majority of action with a 10-7 record during the 2016 campaign. She had a 1.53 goals against average with a .783 save percentage. Through 17 games, she allowed just 26 goals, recording 94 saves over 1193:08 minutes of action. Tessier saw action in five games, including two starts, going 2-0 on the season. She allowed three goals on the year for a 1.28 GAA and a .400 save percentage over 164:40 minutes.
Awards, rankings and honors were once again plentiful for the Lyons throughout the course of the season as they opened the 2016 campaign ranked 20th in Division III. Wagner was also named Offensive Performer of the Week.
Three players were named to the NEWMAC All-Conference Teams, including First Team honorees Mushavi and DiCesare. Wagner was a Second Team selection. Braz was also tabbed to the NEWMAC All-Sportsmanship Team. Regionally, Mushavi earned All-New England East Region First Team honors, while DiCesare and Wagner were on the Second Team.
Additionally, Mushavi garnered NFHCA All-American Third Team honors for the second straight season. Capping the honors was Mushavi and DiCesare, who were both selected to play in the NFHCA Division III Senior Game.
The Lyons also continued to show their dominance as nine student-athletes were tabbed to the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference Team.
• Finished tied for fourth in the NEWMAC standings
• Qualified for the NEWMAC Tournament for the 18th consecutive season
• Three student-athletes named to NEWMAC All-Conference Teams
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-New England Region First Team –Ruvimbo Mushavi '17
• Longstreth/NFHCA All-America Third Team – Ruvimbo Mushavi '17
• NEWMAC Offensive Performer of the Week – Charlotte Wagner (10/3)
• Nine student-athletes earn NEWMAC Academic All-Conference honors
• Team posted 2nd-best GPA in Division III to earn NFHCA National Academic Team honors for the 19th straight season
• 20 student-athletes tabbed to the NFHCA National Academic Squad - most among all Division III teams
• Two student-athletes earn NFHCA Scholar of Distinction honors