DIVISION II: SEVERAL CONTENDERS FOR BLOOMSBURG'S CROWN

By Al Mattei

Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

Jan Hutchinson might have turned in the best collegiate field hockey coaching performance of the 1990s. But because it is in the low-key world of NCAA Division II, the feat has not gotten the notoriety that it might have if she was at a Division I instutution

In 1999, she steered the Bloomsburg Huskies to their fourth straight national championship, which is an NCAA all-division record.

But, the Huskies lost through graduation the national player of the year in Jess Kirscher, as well as leading scorer Bridget Heckman. All-American who was the team's leadingscorer and several other key performers.

So, as the Huskies prepare for a new season, what about that fifth straight title, Coach?

"We had a series of players come through Bloomsburg who achieved great success," said coach Jan Hutchinson. "Those players are gone and it is time for a new group to establish themselves as some of the best in the country. It will probably take some time for the players to get used to each other before we gel as a team."

That will especially be the case on the front line. All-American Krista Engle returns along with veterans Kristy Roadarmel, Tara Fabian, and Heather Weikel. Look also for top scholastic prospect Nicole Hartanft to challenge for playing time.

Three-year starter Ammie Carnell will join a transfer from the University of Michigan, Liz Martin.

The face of Division II has been ripe for change the past few seasons, and part of that change started in 1999. For one, a north region team was guaranteed a slot in the final. Bentley College got that position and got to within 70 minutes of the Division I championship.

But the Falcons graduate leading scorer Jen Bunce (23 goals). Fortunately, Bentley has her sister Allyson (13 goals) and Kristyn Bates (12) returning. Lead assister Ann Marie Sheridan (15 helpers) is going to provide needed senior leadership.

The quality of returning seniors will help when breaking in a new goalkeeper like Shannon Rudd. She watched the experienced Shannon Cahill play every minute of the Falcons' dream season a year ago, and at the moment the umpire blows her whistle the first game of the 2000, season, she will be playing her first varsity minutes in a Bentley jersey.

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