LANCASTER, Pa. –Franklin & Marshall's field hockey team begins the 2015 season as the No. 6 team in the nation, continuing a streak of four consecutive years the Diplomats appeared in the top-10 of the opening poll, and begin play on Wednesday at home against Elizabethtown for a 7:00 p.m. contest.
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F&M enjoyed one of its most successful years in program history last season, setting numerous Diplomat and conference records along the way to its sixth consecutive winning season. The Diplomats finished with an 18-3 mark to tie the all-time win record and concluded Centennial Conference (CC) play at 9-1.
A total of 21 returners, including eight starters, return from last year's team that advanced to its third straight CC Championship game, made the program's seventh appearance in the NCAA Playoffs, and picked up the first tournament win since 2011 with a 6-0 drubbing of Regis (Mass.) in the first round. The players being welcomed back into the fold will need to help supplement the loss of six seniors from last year, including three starters.
Eight senior leaders, including two All-Americans, will lead the way for F&M and form a veteran squad that figures to have the experience and talent level necessary to get over that final hurdle of capturing the conference title that has eluded the program since 2012. A skilled seven-member freshmen class will be looked at to compete for starting spots and add depth by fighting for minutes on the field.
D/M - Mary Kate Olson – Sr.
F - Maria Guarisco – Sr.
M - Tamara Mills – Sr.
F - Lauren Eastman – Sr.
D - Clare Wirth – Sr.
D/M - Mary Kate Meedzan - Sr.
D - Bridget Falcone - Jr.
F - Sydney Cole – So.
Returning All-American's Olson and Guarisco look to continue their dominance in the conference. Olson is coming off of her second straight All-America nod and was named the USA Field Hockey DIII Regular Season MVP after starting all 21 games at midfield and played a pivitol role in leading F&M to an NCAA DIII-best 57 percent shutout percentage. Guarisco led the team and was second in the CC in points with 48, goals with 20 and tied for fourth with eight assists. Her 2.29 points per game average ranked 24th in the nation, while her 0.95 goals a game was good for 26th.
Mills, a Second Team All-CC and All-Region member from last year, will help solidify the midfield and add some scoring punch to the offense after tying the team lead with eight assists, a mark that also tied for fourth in the conference. Her 22 points on the year were good for fourth on the team, while her seven goals placed fifth.
Eastman and Wirth also headline a strong senior class, as Eastman was third on the team in goals last season with nine, including four game winners, and Wirth tallied nine points (3 G, 3 A) as a defender. Cole looks to build on a successful first-year campaign that ended with a CC Rookie of the Year nod and a place on the Synapse Sports All-Rookie Team, after tallying the second-most goals on the team (12) and the seventh-most points in the conference (29).
The Diplomats enter the year at No. 6 in the Penn Monto / NFHCA Division III Preseason Poll. CC-foe Ursinus is right behind F&M at No. 7 and is the only other conference representative. In the CC Preseason Poll, the Diplomats were ranked No. 2 by the CC coaches after earning a pair of first-place votes. The Bears were named the favorite, tallying the other nine first-place votes.
Moving up the Charts
With six game-winning goals in her career, Guarisco is tied for fourth on the program's all-time list. Becky Willert '11 holds the record at 13. Guarisco moved into the top-5 in assists last season, ranking fourth with 22 in her career. Eileen O'Reilly '10 leads the program with 35. The senior forward continues her ascent up the program's scoring list and is now 10th in goals with 32 and 11th in points with 86 in her career.
Closing in on 100
Entering her eighth season, head coach Melissa Mariano is now just four wins away from reaching the historic 100-win plateau. Her 96-37 career record stands as the best in program history in both victories and win percentage (.722).
The Road Ahead
F&M will square off against four teams ranked in the preseason top-20, including No. 20 Rowan on the road (Sept. 5), No. 17 Mary Washington at home (Sept. 12), No. 13 Messiah on the road (Sept. 23), and No. 7 Ursinus on the road (Sept. 26). CC action begins against Swarthmore on Saturday, Sept. 19.
A new feature to this year's schedule is the "Add to Calendar" button, which allows fans to sync new events and updates directly in their Google, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, ICal and additional calendars.
Look for the icon below, which can be accessed at the top-right of the 2015 football schedule when viewed on your computer, or bottom-left of all schedules on your mobile device.
Opening WeekGame 1 Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015 F&M vs. Elizabethtown | Lancaster, Pa. | 7:00 PM Series Record: F&M leads 22-20-3 Streak: F&M +2 Last F&M Victory: 1-0, Aug. 29, 2014 Last E-town Victory: 2-1, Aug. 31, 2012 Video (HD) | Live Stats
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