Fields of Gold

UnCommon Ground - Fields of Gold

The Big Red stickers picked up North Coast Athletic Conference gold twice, first capturing the league’s regular-season championship trophy, then sweeping through the NCAC’s postseason tournament to pick up more hardware and an even bigger prize, the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

That bid came with such clout that Denison was chosen of one of eight top seeds, earning the 18-1 Big Red a first-round bye. The dream season ended in the second round, when nationally ranked MIT upended Denison, 4-1.

The season leading up to this year’s NCAA postseason action was one for the ages. The 2011 Denison field hockey squad tied the school’s all-time record for wins in a season with 18, a feat also accomplished in 1984. Catie Merrick ’13 scored 15 goals, bringing her career total to 54. She has already shattered the previous career scoring mark of 44 goals held by Jenny Lacey ’06 and Wizzie Crocker ’95. Goalkeeper Brittany Benson ’13 also made her way into the Denison record books, posting 14 shutouts and surpassing the previous mark of 12 set by Elise Ludwig ’00. With 22 career shutouts already, and one more season to play, Benson also is threatening Ludwig’s career record of 25. Postseason honors were predictably profuse, as Benson, the NCAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, headlined a horde of All-Conference first-teamers that included defender Kelsey Flowers ’12, defender Karla Dixon ’14, defender Tara Pesman ’15, and forward Katie McMahon ’14. In addition, McMahon was honored as a Division III All-American, and head coach P.J. Soteriades was named both the Conference and Regional Coach of the Year. Says Nan Carney-Debord ’80, Denison director of athletics: “It was impressive to watch the fierce competitiveness, athletic prowess, and quite simply, joy for the game displayed by every member of the field hockey team.”

Published December 2011