BROCKTON ENTERPRISE: "Fourth-ranked Stonehill field hockey off to 5-0 start"

Junior All-American Erika Kelly added another record to her mantle over the weekend and is leading the NE-10 in scoring. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

The Skyhawks, who were 16-0 before losing for the first time in 2013, are led by the program's all-time leading goal scorer, junior Erika Kelly.

BY Jim Fenton
Enterprise Staff

The Stonehill College field hockey team began the 2013 season with 16 straight wins before losing to Merrimack College on Oct. 29.
The Skyhawks wound up dropping four of their final six games, including one-goal defeats in the Northeast-10 Conference championship round and the NCAA Division II tournament.

One year later, Stonehill is off to a 5-0 start and is ranked fourth in the national poll, outscoring opponents, 22-11.

Coach Shelly Morris, now in her seventh season, is hopeful that lessons learned last season will come in handy this fall.

"Last year, once we got to 16, we were kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop,'' said Morris. "I don't feel like we're really feeling that pressure this year. We're doing a good job of just getting it done and moving on and focusing on what's the next task at hand.

"We were happy to be there last year. Now they're just not happy to be there. They're wanting a little bit more to finish what they started.''

Stonehill lost key seniors from last season's 18-4 team, but a young group that gained valuable experience is back and thriving so far.

Freshman Alexandria Sylvia has made an immediate impact for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

"We have kids who were sophomores last year that are juniors now and have a grown a ton and become really good leaders,'' said Morris. "We've got a lot of really good, solid players, and that's what you need.''

Leading the way is junior All-AmericaErika Kelly (eight goals, three assists) who broke the program record last weekend with her 54th career goal. Kelly, named the NE-10 player of the week Monday, also has 115 points, which is third behind Caitlin Gleason (132) and Claire Hourihan (118).

"Obviously, she finds a way to score,'' said Morris. "She has this vision for the goal. Her sight lines for the goal, you can't really defend it. She creates for herself. It's special. She's hard to defend.''

Junior Lauren Giordano is second with six goals for 12 points while freshman Alexandria Sylvia of Brockton has three goals and was selected the NE-10 rookie of the week Monday.

"She's come in with no fear,'' said Morris of the Brockton High graduate. "I knew she had a lot of speed. She's just a good, natural athlete with stick skills and she's scrappy and fast.''

Goalkeeper Elizabeth Genovese, a senior, has a 1.88 goals against average in five starts for the Skyhawks, who are idle until hosting Saint Anselm next Tuesday night.

"Teams are only going to get better as we go on and so are we, hopefully,'' said Morris. "We're doing a good job of not taking any opponent for granted. We learned a lot last year after going 16-0 and losing when it really counted. We're trying to take care of business a little differently this year.''