It would be hard to have a better field hockey season than Endicott College senior Kristen McCarthy put together a year ago.
At the same time, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against her doing it all over again.
The Gulls’ captain from Danvers is off to a great start this season, scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist in her team’s 3-1 road victory over a tough Babson team, which was ranked 14th in the country.
“We all believe this is going to be a special season for our team,” said the former Danvers High star. “Babson was an important game for us to get started on the right foot. We fell behind but tied it up, and didn’t want to go to overtime because we were all gassed in the fourth quarter on a hot day.
“I scored with about eight minutes left, then we added an insurance goal in the last two minutes. We had been in their zone almost the whole time, and our defense stepped up, too.”
McCarthy led the team in points with 75 as a junior. She had 29 goals and 17 assists and was named the Commonwealth Coast Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, All-New England First Team, and a National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American. She was also an Academic All Conference selection.
Taylor Farrin, a junior goalie from Danvers who played at Bishop Fenwick, only faced four shots because the Gulls’ defense in front of her was so dominant.
“Taylor is a really good goalie, and she had a lot of help from our defense,” said McCarthy.
“We have nine starters back and two important people filling in on defense for the ones that graduated. One freshman did a really nice job in her first college game.”
The Gulls are on the road again Saturday for an overnight trip to New York to take on RPI at Renssalaer. McCarthy is glad to have the first two games away from home so the team can bond.
“It’s a nice way to start the season,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m in my senior year; the time has really flown by. My goals for the season are really more for the team than any personal ones: if we play like we did last year and maybe even better, the team will go a long way.”
The Gulls grabbed the top spot in the CCC coaches preseason poll with 47 points. A year ago they posted an 18-5 overall mark, going a perfect 12-0 in league competition. In the championship tilt Endicott beat the University of New England, 1-0, to advance to the NCAA first round against St. Joseph’s of Maine. After winning that game they were eliminated by No. 1 ranked Messiah in the second round.
“Our goal is to go to the Sweet 16 or, even better, the Final Eight, which would be crazy. But I think we can do it,” said McCarthy, an education major who plans to coach in the future.
The former Salem News Player of the Year stayed on campus this summer to train with her teammates while also playing in both the Bentley Summer League and another league in Amesbury.
“When my playing days end, I want to coach high school field hockey,” said McCarthy. “Maybe I’ll eventually be back coaching with Jill (McGinnity, her high school coach at Danvers).”
For now, the focus is strictly on this season and some key non-league games coming up with NESCAC opponents such as Tufts, Bates, Amherst and Trinity.
Endicott head coach Jodi Cipolla is in her 13th season at the helm. Another local player on the team is junior Zoe Shibel from Boxford, who played at Masconomet and was part of that squad’s strong defensive core.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @JeanDePlacidoSN