NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – With the start of the 2017-18 academic year moving closer and closer, a trio of Merrimack College programs began preseason work on Monday as the No. 25 men’s soccer team, the field hockey squad and women’s soccer program all participated in their first practices of the year at newly renovated Martone-Mejail Field.
The men’s soccer program returns to campus under the direction of head coach Tony Martone, who begins his 36th season at the helm of the Warriors. Martone boasts 363 career wins and has the fifth-most victories among active Division II coaches. Merrimack will be led by three first-year captains in graduate student Josue Ruiz Maya (Madero, Mexico), senior Michael Dushman (Bedford, Mass.) and junior Sergio Martinez (Tampico, Mexico), and return seven starters overall to a program that advanced to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament last season.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Megan Shea, the field hockey program got started on Monday as well with its first two practice sessions of preseason. The Navy and Gold return their top-three leading scorers from last season in seniors Rylie Hammond (Phillipston, Mass.), Taylor Simpson (York, Maine) and junior All-American Mary McNeil (Canton, Mass.). Defensively, junior Delaney Yule (Southbury, Conn.) started all 17 games one year ago, while the goalkeeping tandem of sophomore Katharina Ohmen (Bremen, Germany) and senior Kayla Raneri (Reading, Mass.)return as well.
Finally, the women’s soccer team and 34th-year head coach Gabe Mejail also opened up camp with an early morning practice today after the team moved back to campus on Sunday. The Warriors finished in 10th place in last year’s Northeast-10 Conference standings following a fierce battle for the final few playoff spots down the stretch. Merrimack posted a 5-6-3 record in conference play, but four of those losses were by one goal. Offensively, the team returns all three of its top scorers featuring seniors and All-New England honorees Victoria Carter (Smithfield, R.I.) and Sarah Boucher (Northbridge, Mass.), as well as junior Amber Gustafson (Lancaster, Mass.). All three goalkeepers also return for the Warriors, including senior goalkeeper Molly Meehan (Fairfield, Conn.), who started all but two games last season.
Men’s soccer has its regular-season opener slated for Friday, Sept. 1, against Caldwell University during the annual Merrimack Kickoff Classic on campus. Field hockey, meanwhile, will travel to East Stroudsburg for its first game of the year in a rematch of the 2015 NCAA Championship Final on Saturday, Sept. 2. Finally, women’s soccer begins the season with two tilts on Long Island on Labor Day Weekend starting with a Friday, Sept. 1 season-opening bout against Dominican College as part of the Molloy Labor Day Weekend Tournament. The Warriors then play the host Lions on Sunday (Sept. 3).