Coming off of a historic 10-win season, the most in program history, the Wheelock College field hockey team was picked to finish first in 2016 in the New England Collegiate Conference preseason poll.
The 2016 season marked head coach Erin Campbell's third year at the helm. The squad looked to be in good shape to start the season with reigning NECC Rookie of the Year Abbey Raymond returning as well as NECC First Team members Katie Frade and Emma Panto.
The 2016 home opener for the Wildcats took place on September 3 vs. the Pilgrims of New England College.
Wheelock went right to work, as Katie Frade put in her first goal of the day off the stick of Abbey Raymond just 58 seconds into the contest. The two teams exchanged multiple shots over the next ten minutes, but it was Wheelock who capitalized again, as Frade redirected a ball high from classmate Alexandria LeBlanc for a 2-0 lead.
NEC responded quickly, however, when Aislinn DeHorsey connected with Leah Foster to cut the Pilgrim deficit in half at 12:52.
The Wildcats led 2-1 entering the break and that's what the score would eventually remain, as neither squad could convert in the second period. Wheelock held advantages in shots (22-9) and penalty corners (12-6).
First year Isabelle Salvati earned the win in her first game in net for Wheelock, tallying five saves, while Michaela Clark recorded nine saves in the loss.
Susan g. komen breast cancer awareness game
The team dedicated their Wednesday, October 19 game vs. Becker College to raising awareness and money for breast cancer research. Julia D'Onofrio put the Wildcats on the board first, after depositing a ball off the stick of Emma Panto in the 29th minute.
Wheelock had plenty of opportunities to lift the lead to two, taking eight shots over the next 26 minutes, but Becker evened the score at 1-1 when Amy Grenier scored on a penalty corner thanks to a helper from Jocelyn Lebel at 53:55.
Immediately following the Hawks first goal, the Wildcats took a quick six penalty corners over a 3:35 span, but just couldn't put the ball away and an eventual sudden-death overtime period followed.
Becker kept the home squad on their toes following the opening overtime whistle, possessing first and taking a corner after just 35 seconds had gone by. However, the Wheelock defense pulled off a stop that sparked an Abbey Raymond breakaway up the right side and a diving Panto goal for the 2-1, overtime win.
After the bracket was set, the 2016 NECC Field Hockey tournament appeared to be anybody's game, as each of the top four teams, including Wheelock, had previously secured wins over one another during the regular season.
After splitting with each series with Becker, Elms and Regis, Wheelock entered the NECC tournament as the third overall seed and prepared to travel to the second-seeded Elms College for the semifinals on November 2.
Elms marked a notch on the scoreboard early, after Jeszenia McGuire redirected a cross from Madison Messier at 5:16. Messier struck for the second Blazers goal just over seven minutes later for a 2-0 advantage.
Wheelock chipped away at the two-goal deficit at 12:21 when junior forward Katie Frade got her stick on an Alex LeBlanc attempt and chipped it in top shelf.
Trailing 2-1, Wheelock took the first three shots of the second period, but Elms was able to convert on just their first attempt of the half after Messier dumped in a ball from Olivia Keane at 40:12 to make it 3-1.
The Blazers gained their largest advantage of the contest in the 47th minute, on a penalty corner that saw Stephanie Esposito deposit the ball into the net after an initial Wheelock stop.
Once again, Wheelock cut the hosts' lead in half, this time thanks to an unassisted Frade rocket from the right side at 55:06. The Wildcats controlled the ball for much of the game's remainder, but were unable to get past the Blazers' defensive unit.
Wheelock ended their season that night with an overall record of 8-10 and a 7-3 conference tally.
The 2016 field hockey season at Wheelock was one of many accomplishments for a number of Wildcats.
Leading the way was junior Katie Frade, who used the season to eclipse the previous career points and career goals records that were each set in 2012. Frade was named NECC Player of the Week three times throughout the season. The forward was named to the All-NECC First Team after leading the conference in both points (51) and goals (23).
First year Wildcat Julia D'Onofrio enjoyed a standout season in 2016, as she was named NECC Rookie of the Year following the conclusion of the season. Additionally, D'Onofrio earned a spot on the All-NECC First Team after notching 15 points (7g, 1a) on the season.
Melanie Newberg was named Rookie of the Week three times this season, in addition to earning the Player of the week title for the week of October 31. Newberg tallied 26 points (24g, 2a) in 17 games for the Wildcats.
Senior Emma Panto was also a key player for the Wildcats, as she was named to the conference First Team after registering nine goals and seven assists in 15 games. Panto earned Player of the Week for her accomplishments during the week of October 24.
Senior midfielder Courtney Scherer was honored by the conference with a Player of the Week nod on September 12. Scherer recorded six points on the season.
The Wheelock field hockey team achieved great things in 2016, not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. The team posted an impressive 3.54 cumulative GPA for the year after placing eleven on the 2016 Zag Field Hockey/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III National Academic Squad and nine on the New England Collegiate Conference Fall All-Academic Team.
In order to earn a spot on an NECC All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must be a sophomore or higher in class standings and earn a minimum GPA of 3.40. Rachel Danis, Genny Dyer, Katie Frade, Alex LeBlanc, Alexah Mellis, Jenna O'Leary, Emma Panto, Abbey Raymond and Abbie Sheehan were each included on the list.
To be eligible for the Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad honor, student-athletes must have recorded a 3.30 GPA or higher during the fall semester. Seniors Jenna O'Leary and Emma Panto, juniors Rachel Danis, Genevieve Dyer, Katie Frade, Alexandria LeBlanc and Abbey Raymond, sophomores Abbigail Sheehan and Alexah Mellis and freshmen Julia D'Onofrio and Isabelle Salvati were all honored for their academic accomplishments.
Additionally, Jenna O'Leary was named by the organization as a Scholar of Distinction. O'Leary was one of 148 field hockey student-athletes across all three divisions to earn a 3.90 grade point average for the semester.