Field Hockey Looks to Build on Last Season's Successes

Returning the majority of their roster after their most successful season in the past five years, the field hockey team is loaded with talent and experience and looks prepared for an even more promising year.

Field Hockey Looks to Build on Last Season's Successes
Field Hockey will return to the field against Mount Holyoke on Thursday, Sept. 8. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios.

Field hockey comes into the 2022 season looking to build on their best season since 2016, where they finished with an 11-5 record. Lead by forwards Muffie Mazambani ’24 and Sam Maynard ’25 — who paced the team in points with 31 and 27, respectively — the team recorded a variety of impressive wins last year, including a victory over top-10 ranked Bowdoin and an 8-0 triumph over Clark University in their first ever game on their new field. To top it all off, head coach Carol Knerr also earned her 200th career win in the team’s Sept. 29 victory over Clark.

While the Mammoths’ stellar season ended with a 1-0 NESCAC quarterfinal loss to Bowdoin, there is lots of cause for optimism going into 2022. Senior captain Sage Geyer ’23E reiterated the team’s goals for the coming year. “Last year we had a very strong team but did not make it as far in the NESCAC tournament as we had hoped,” Geyer said. “We also did not get a bid to the NCAA tournament. Only two of our teammates graduated, meaning much of the team is the same. We are excited and fired up for the season as most of our team has playing experience. We hope to make it further in the NESCAC tournament this year, and receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.”

With most of the team’s 2021 roster returning, and a class of talented first-years entering the ranks, Amherst looks poised for yet another successful season. At first glance, the team’s championship aspirations seem justified. The extensive roster of returning veterans on this year’s team includes every one of the team’s top six players last year in terms of minutes played, goals scored, assists, points, and shots on goal. They also come into this season with nine players who started more than 15 games in 2021: seniors Beth Williamson ’23E, Sophia Kaplan ’23E, Natalie Hobbs ’23E, and Geyer, junior Mazambani, and sophomores Maynard, Kat Mason ’25, Abbey Kays ’25, and Kate Smith ’25. Williamson, Kaplan, and Mazambani all earned All-Region honors for their play last season, and Williamson was also named a First Team All-American by Synapse Sports and a Third Team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.

In their preseason scrimmage on Sunday, Sept. 4, the Mammoths showed that they can live up to these expectations with a 3-1 win over Trinity — who took them down in penalty strokes in their 2021 regular season finale. The performance demonstrated just how good of a position this team is in coming into the new season. Amherst’s goals were scored by Jackie D'Avella ’23, Williamson, and Paige DiBiasse ’25. Sara Nidus ’24 had a great game in goal, making multiple big saves to keep the Mammoths ahead.

“I think we played really well,” Mazambani said of the team's Sunday scrimmage. “We had possession of the ball for most of the game and played it out of our defensive third really well. We had a lot of great passing combinations that started from the backfield and [moved] all the way to the forward line where we were able to get some great goals. Our coach [Knerr] even said she had goosebumps with some of the goals she saw. Overall, [it got us] very excited for the season.”

With their preseason now officially behind them, the Mammoths will look to start their 2022 regular season on the right foot just 20 short minutes up the road at Mount Holyoke. Their game against the Lyons, their first official game of the 2022 season, will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8.