In 2011, the defending SUNYAC champion Geneseo field hockey team will not have a clear path to retaining its title. Head coach Jessica Seren lost All-American Michelle Milkovich, as well as All-SUNYAC players Stephanie Maisonet, Rianna Travers and Erin Zalewski when they graduated in May.
"It's obviously always tough to replace talent like that. The nice thing is you have players step up that didn't have that chance last year. I know we have the talent to replace [their production]," coach Seren said about the loss of her seniors.
The Knights also face four preseason top-20 teams, including conference foe and rival SUNY Cortland, who will visit Geneseo on Sept. 17.
Geneseo entered the year as No. 20 in the preseason coaches' poll and came out of the first week of the season with a 1-1 record. The opener was Saturday Sept. 3 in Pennsylvania, where the Knights took on Wilkes University. Sophomore forward Kayla DeAngelis scored the first goal of the season just seven minutes into the game. Junior forward Kelsey Horan also scored two goals to lead the team to a 3-1 win. Junior Caitlyn Dowell manned the net and had seven saves as Geneseo outshot its opponents 21-10.
"It was nice to see players step up and score that didn't get the opportunity last year," said Seren of Horan's performance. "We had some new players in different roles that showed they could compete. It was a quality win for us … Wilkes is a very good team," coach Seren said.
Just a day later the Knights were up against Salisbury University, ranked No. 4 in the preseason, and the Sea Gulls emerged with a 4-1 victory over Geneseo.
"They're an amazing team," Seren said. "What's good is that we played them early in the year so we can take a lot from that game and learn from it."
Salisbury rattled off four straight goals – all by different players – before sophomore forward Katie Farley scored her first goal of the season off a pass from DeAngelis. Dowell made six saves in goal. "The season is still very young. We'll just take it day by day and keep building momentum from here," Seren said.
This Saturday, Sept. 10 the Knights travel to the University of Rochester to take on rival Yellow Jackets in a non-conference game before hosting Houghton College on Tuesday Sept. 13.
"U of R is very good this year," Seren said. "Our game has always been very close, and any one of them has either gone to overtime or has been a one-goal game."
Geneseo is undefeated against Rochester since Seren has been head coach.