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2022 Preview: Kenyon geared up for title defense

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon field hockey team put together a late-season run and utilized one of the best offensive combos in the conference to win the 2021 North Coast Athletic Conference regular-season title. As the 2022 Owls go through the preseason grind, they are mapping out goals, including a title defense, for the season ahead.

2021 Review

Despite a last-minute coaching change, the Kenyon team did not lose a step in the 2021 season. Morgan Brozena arrived on campus in mid-August, had just a couple weeks to adjust and started the season with a 1-0 win against Ohio Wesleyan University. A couple losses followed, but the team bounced back to chalk up a 13-5 overall record and a 7-1 first-place record in North Coast Athletic Conference play.     

Two of Kenyon’s five losses came to nationally-ranked teams, and one of those teams needed overtime to put Kenyon away. When the conference schedule unfolded, Kenyon topped Allegheny and lost to rival Denison. After that, the team whipped up six straight NCAC wins to take the top spot in the conference standings. Kenyon earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAC Tournament, but was upended in the first round of postseason play, 1-0, by Ohio Wesleyan.

Preseason Polls

The Owls were selected by North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) coaches to finish third in the nine-team race for the 2022 conference title. Ohio Wesleyan University and Denison University tied for first place, both with 71 points, in the preseason poll. Ohio Wesleyan received four first-place votes, while Denison got two first-place votes. Kenyon also received two first-place votes and finished with 67 poll points, just four shy of the two-way tie at first place. Earlham, an NCAC affiliate for field hockey, got the other first-place vote and settled into fourth place in the poll with 52 points.  

Coach’s Bio

The 2022 season marks the second at Kenyon for Brozena. To be fair, though, she was hired late in the summer last season, didn’t have an assistant coach and just didn’t have the time to make all the adjustments she would have liked. This year, Brozena has the luxury of having assistant coach Megan Heary by her side. Heary was hired in March, so the upcoming 2022 season will be her first full season with the program. In 2021, Brozena coached the team to a 13-5 record. She had five players named to the All-NCAC team and one named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Region Team. Prior to Kenyon, Brozena coached at Cedar Crest College for a season and, before that, three seasons as an assistant coach at University of New Haven.

Coach’s Quote

“I am really looking forward to this season. We have a strong returning group and a lot of talented young players who are ready to contribute on the field this year. We saw a lot of success last season and we plan to continue to build upon that from the start.”

Key Returners
The Owls return a solid senior class of five. That group includes Payton Doan, Hannah Hartshorn, Carolyn Herbosa, Bella Kern and Lydia Turk. Doan is as steady as the come in goal. She’s played 37 career games for Kenyon and owns a 27-7 record to go along with a 0.69 goals against average and .830 save percentage. Hartshorn and Turk are defensive-minded midfielders who help Doan keep opponents off the scoreboard. Herbosa contributed a goal and an assist last year, while Kern helped pace the offense with 24 points on a team-best 12 goals. Both Doan and Kern were named to the 2021 All-NCAC Team.

Other players like junior Hannah Paprotna and sophomore Grace Lane could very well make an impact, too. Paprotna, a midfielder, ranked third on the team last season with five points on a pair of goals and an assist. Lane scored twice last season and her play resulted in an honorable mention spot on the 2021 All-NCAC team.     

Key Departures
May’s graduation claimed Sarah Metzmaier, one of the best offensive players in program history. A National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-America (2019) and All-Region (2019, 2021) honoree, Metzmaier exited the program ranked fifth all-time in points (77) and sixth in goals (35), despite playing parts of just three seasons. Gone, too, are All-NCAC defender Abby Timmins, as well as Orcin Akman, Emma Hyer, Isabella Meneguzzi and Felecia Hamilton, who combined for two goals and five assists a season ago. 

Schedule Overview
The Owls open their schedule with two road games. The season opener will be Friday, September 2 at Rhodes College. After a game with Washington and Jefferson College, the Owls return to Gambier for their home opener, which will be against Shenandoah University on Saturday, September 10. One day later, the Owls start their North Coast Athletic Conference schedule against Allegheny College, which remains in the conference as a field hockey affiliate.

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