The field hockey team is hoping that a change on the sidelines will translate to a change on the stat sheet.

Former assistant Pam Stuper, who is in her first year as head coach, will lead the Bulldogs as they try to rebound from a season full of disappointments. The Elis had entered the 2004 season as the two-time defending ECAC champions but stumbled to a 7-10 record, including a 2-5 mark in the Ivy League. They suffered a number of pitfalls, including losing forward Trish Bissett ’07 to a concussion, and struggled all season long moving the ball up the field and completing short corners, which led to several scoring droughts.

Stuper replaced Ainslee Lamb, who announced her resignation in February to become the head coach at Boston College.

Under the guidance of Stuper and invigorated by two big wins at spring tournaments, the Elis (1-1) have a renewed confidence and a strong determination to win.

“Our team is going to be much, much stronger than last year,” captain Marly Gillece ’06 said. “We are really working well with Pam Stuper. We are definitely going to be able to outrun any team we come up against.”

To ensure their success, the Elis have been working hard in the preseason.

“We’ve got some great freshmen and we’ve been working really hard over the summer,” midfielder Harriet Thayer ’08 said.

While the team as a whole has been concentrating on improving personal speed and fitness, some players are expected to shine in the upcoming season. Midfielder Lindsay Collins ’07, one of the Elis’ fastest players, will be a huge benefit to the team with her quickness and stick skills. Bissett, who has recovered from last year’s head injuries, will also be a great asset for the offense. Two other players recovering from surgery, defender Heather Orrico ’07 and forward Cat Lindroth ’08, will also play major roles on the team this season.

Yet, the Bulldogs will have to overcome several challenges to seek the success that eluded them last year. The team lost its leading scorer, center midfielder Sarah Driscoll ’05, as well as defender Meredith Hudson ’05. Four newcomers — midfielders Laura Pierce ’09 and Ali Rotondo ’09 and forwards Jayna Whitcher ’09 and Alyssa Jethani ’09 — will be greatly relied upon to help the team.

“The team has so many good players instead of one star player,” Rotondo said. “Anyone could step in there and take the job.”

Just two contests into the season, the Elis have shown a tendency to start strong but slump in the middle of the game — one of the factors which led to a 2-1 defeat to Northwestern on Sunday.

“Our weaknesses were exploited Sunday but they can be fixed,” Gillece said.

Still the team has confidence in its new leadership.

“[Stuper] was a great assistant coach and she’s an even better head coach,” Thayer said. “We couldn’t ask for anyone better to be our coach this year.”

Under Stuper’s guidance, the team has improved its fitness and passing.

“We’re a smart team,” Rotondo said. “We have the ability to make good passes.”

The Bulldogs, which topped Sacred Heart before falling to Northwestern, are excited for the start of Ivy League play Saturday at Princeton.

“We are 110 percent ready to kick some Princeton butt,” Gillece said.

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