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WestConn field hockey team on the rise

August 27, 2018

One look and it becomes obvious: there is something different about the Western Connecticut State University field hockey team this season. There are more players — including more than a dozen returning players and 10 freshmen — and there is strength in numbers.

“We have options this year,” Colonials coach Dani McDonnell said. “We were very lean in previous years. The coaching staff is excited about the options we can have. We have a lot of new players who are open to playing in new positions, and the returners played a lot last year, so they have a lot of experience. We’re very excited. I can’t wait see these guys play against other teams.”

McDonnell has been the field hockey program’s only head coach since it was resurrected in 2005 after sitting dormant since 1991. After starting from scratch, McDonnell has guided the Colonials to a 69-156 record in 13 seasons. WestConn qualified for its first two Little East Conference tournaments in 2010 and 2011, advanced to the conference semifinals in 2014, recorded its best overall record of its new era at 10-7 in 2011, and it’s best record in the conference at 6-5 in 2014.

WestConn was tied for ninth out of 13 teams in the Little East preseason coaches’ poll. That just means that there may be some awfully surprised coaches around the conference.

“It’s definitely a really exciting preseason for us,” said junior forward and former Pomperaug High School star Carly Matasavage. “We’re coming out strong. We have the numbers and we have the talent, so it’s just a matter of executing at this point. We’re working on staying mentally strong as well as physically strong and taking both of them out on the field.”

Goalkeeper Neve Manion is back for her sophomore season after starting all 19 games for WestConn last season. The former Newington High School standout posted a 3.43 goals-against average last year and made 147 saves.

In front of Manion, junior Shannon Lynch of Newtown will look to anchor the Colonial defense. She will be joined by junior Lili Dickey of Westbrook, who transferred in from Connecticut College. Her mother, Janet, notched her 200th career victory as the field hockey coach at Westbrook High School in 2016.

Senior Allie Noteware of New Milford is back at the ever-important center midfield position, and the Colonials welcome back their top three scorers from last year in senior Morgan Matthews of Bethel (24 points), Matasavage (24 points) and sophomore Kim Brower of Mahopac, N.Y. (15 points).

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