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October 11. 2014 11:44PM

Alex Hall's College Notebook: Sky's the limit for soaring St. Anselm field hockey team


Londonderry's Kelsey Leblanc, and Meagan Halligan, Allia Connolly, Colleen Sears and Derry's Canada Stewart celebrate a Leblanc goal earlier this season. St. Anselm was 5-1 entering weekend play. (Jim Stankiewicz/St. Anselm Athletic Communications)


A member of St. Anselm's field hockey team leans to get control of the ball during recent action. 

With over a month left to play, this season has already been a success for the St. Anselm field hockey team. The Hawks were 5-1 heading into the weekend, their best record at this point in the season since head coach Carolyn King took over three years ago.

"When you take over a program, everyone tells you three to five years. That's your expected window," King said. "I expected us to be competitive (this season)... at this point, I'm not surprised by anything."

St. Anselm took a three-game winning streak and a fourth-place standing in the Northeast-10 Conference into the weekend. Two of those victories came against LIU Post and Stonehill, both of whom were No. 4 in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll at the time.

The 3-1 victory at Stonehill on Sept. 30 was St. Anselm's first ever against the Skyhawks. LIU Post is the defending Northeast-10 champion and played in the NCAA Division II Championship last season.

Due to their impressive start to the season, the Hawks were ranked No. 9 in the poll this week for the first time in the 14-year history of the program.

"There's only so much a coach can do to keep them grounded initially," King said of the players' reaction. "It's a good indication we're doing something right. I let them celebrate the moment but we've still got two-thirds of the season to go."

King believes the team has been successful so far due to a deep roster that has bought into her system.

"I think one of the big things for us is chemistry. We have 26 players, including nine freshmen that have done a really good job," the Hawks coach said. "We've been building on teams prior since I've gotten here ... it's a thrill to have depth and talented depth."

Some of the young talent for St. Anselm is Londonderry's Kasey Leblanc, Bedford's Jessica Lambert and Megan Dodge of New Boston.

"Kasey is currently our center midfielder, which is such a crucial position and one that doesn't get a ton of recognition," King said of the sophomore. "She's commanding the center for the field. As a freshman, she played significant minutes and this year she stepped into an important role."

Fellow sophomores Lambert and Dodge are two parts to a Hawks defense that has held opponents to 1.8 goals per game.

"Megan and Jess are part of our defensive backfield, which is probably the strongest aspect of our team," King said.

Only Kutztown University has scored more than two goals against King's defense so far this season. The Bears defeated St. Anselm 4-3 in both teams' season opener Sept. 6.

Every game remaining on the Hawks' schedule is against a Northeast-10 opponent. The team will also play rematches again LIU Post, Merrimack College and Stonehill before the season concludes.

King is trying not to look too far ahead on the schedule but has high goals for her team this year.

"Our goal is always to make the playoffs but I have higher expectations," King said. "If we play as well as we can play, we can secure a home game (in the playoffs) and make it to the final four."

The Hawks have not been to the Northeast-10 postseason since 2007.

"No matter what your seed is, anything can happen. We're thinking playoffs. We just have to get in and then do some damage," King said.

St. Anselm sophomore Katherine Sears was named the Northeast-10 Goalkeeper of the Week in field hockey this past week after stopping a combined 15 of 16 shots in victories over Stonehill and Southern Connecticut State. Freshman Allia Connolly was named the conference's rookie of the week after tallying three goals against the same opponents.

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Men's soccer

The North Atlantic Conference named Colby-Sawyer's Nick Austin the defensive player of the week last Tuesday. He has six clean sheets for the Chargers so far this season. Colby-Sawyer did not allow a goal in wins against Becker and Castleton Sept. 30 and Oct. 4.

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Baseball

Former Spaulding of Rochester and Wheaton College baseball player Rob Jenkins has been named as one of three assistant coaches for the Fitchburg State University baseball team under manager Ryan Parker. Jenkins, a 2011 Wheaton graduate, helped the Lyons to three New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference championships.

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Men's hockey

Former Southern New Hampshire goaltender Tyler Holske signed a professional contract with Eindhoven Kemphanen of the Eredivisie League in the Netherlands.

"I would like to thank the SNHU community and the men's hockey program for everything they have done for me for the past four years," Holske said in a statement. "I cannot thank the coaching staff, my teammates, and the entire athletic program for preparing me for this opportunity to pursue my dream."

Holske is a 2014 Southern New Hampshire graduate.

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Alex Hall compiles the college notebook for the New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at ahall@unionleader.com or on Twitter @AlexKHall.


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