The idea that you should not mess with success never occurred to Danielle Ryder.

Although the University of New England field hockey team won its conference championship last year and reached the NCAA tournament, Ryder walked onto the Biddeford campus this season as the Nor’easters’ new coach and made changes.

Ryder, only three years removed from her college playing days at Stonehill in Massachusetts, altered the attacking strategy from long passes from the defense, to shorter passes involving more players.

“There was hesitancy, for sure,” Ryder said.

But as the season went along, Ryder had two factors going for her – leadership from her senior captains and victories.

“As we won, they bought more into the system,” Ryder said.

And they are still buying in. UNE began the season with 13 straight wins, and was ranked 19th in the national poll.

Endicott marred the Nor’easters’ perfect season Oct. 15 with a 5-0 win in Wenham, Mass. (Endicott got two goals from York High graduate Melissa Enright, and a score from Cheverus alumna Emily Sawchuck).

Since then, the Nor’easters (16-1) have begun to win again, including a 2-1 win at Nichols on Tuesday.

UNE plays its last regular-season homegame at 6 tonight against MIT. The Nor’easters play at Salve Regina on Saturday and then begin the Coastal Commonwealth Conference (CCC) playoffs next Wednesday.

Unless Endicott is upset, UNE will be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs – and awaiting a rematch.
“Endicott has definitely improved (during the year), and we didn’t have our best game,” Ryder said. “We hope to play them again. It’s a good match-up.”

The Nor’easters have been led by senior captains Michele Oswald (eight goals/seven assists) of Jay and Bree Tupper (eight goals) of Winthrop.

“They have had three coaches in four years, but they really have jumped on board with everything,” Ryder said. “Sometimes, seniors can get wrapped up in playing for themselves, but they really are playing for their teammates.”

Sophomore Casey Clark of Bethlehem, N.H., leads the team with 10 goals and four assists. Hannah Tavella of Putnam, N.Y., has seven goals and three assists. Three other players from New Hampshire – Emily Koehler, Laura Egounis and goalie Kaitlyn Warren – have anchored the defense.

Among the scoring leaders is sophomore Hayley LaPointe of Topsham (three goals/five assists).

IN OTHER FIELD hockey news, Bowdoin College has already secured the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC tournament. The Polar Bears (13-0), ranked second nationally, complete their regular season at 5 p.m. today  at home against Tufts. Bowdoin will host Hamilton at 1  p.m. Saturday  in a NESCAC quarterfinal match.

St. Joseph’s will be the No. 2 seed in the North Atlantic Conference tournament, which begins with Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Monks (10-5, 8-1) will host Simmons (9-9, 4-5) at 2 p.m.

ST. JOSEPH’S MEN’S
soccer earned the No. 2 seed in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament. The Monks (11-5, 7-3 GNAC) will host No. 7 Suffolk (5-12-1, 4-5-1) at 1 p.m.  Sunday in a quarterfinal.

IN WOMEN’S SOCCER, UNE clinched the top seed in the CCC tournament with a 4-1 win Tuesday against Eastern Nazarene. The Nor’easters are 12-2-2 (8-0-1).

St. Joseph’s beat Mount Ida last weekend to sneak into the GNAC playoffs as the No. 8 seed. The Monks (7-4-4 overall, 6-3-4) play at top-seeded Lasell (12-4-1, 11-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

St. Joseph’s ends its regular season at 3:30 p.m. today at home against Southern Maine.
Bowdoin (6-4-3, 2-4-3) can make the NESCAC playoffs if the Polar Bears beat Tufts at 3 p.m. today in Brunswick.

SOUTHERN MAINE Community College won the Yankee Small College Conference men’s soccer championship, beating Paul Smith’s College in penalty kicks. Keith McClure  scored the winning kick.

The Seawolves will play in the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament in Asheville, N.C., Nov. 3-5.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]
Twitter: ClearTheBases