Date Posted:09/07/2004,  4:00PM

2004 Field Hockey Preview

Head Coach: Nicky Pearson (ninth season, 99-29-0)

Leading Returners: Marissa O'Neil (19 goals-17 assists, pictured), Christi Gannon (14-0), Colleen McDonald (10-2), Taryn King (4-7)

Key Losses: Gillian McDonald (1.06 GAA, 5.5 Shutouts), Amanda Burrage (3-7), Britney Carr (4-1), Faye Hargate (2-3)

Newcomers: Hayley King, Meaghan Maguire, Hillary Hoffman, Val Young, Corey Bergen

2003 RECAP: The Polar Bears continued to be one of the strongest teams in New England, posting their 12th straight season of double-figure wins. Bowdoin finished 13-3 overall and reached the NESCAC Semifinals where they dropped to Williams, 5-4. Bowdoin swept the New England Small College Athletic Conference postseason honors as Marissa O'Neil claimed Player of the Year, Nicky Pearson took Coach of the Year and Taryn King was tabbed Rookie of the Year. O'Neil had one of the best seasons in the history of Bowdoin College Athletics, let alone field hockey. She broke the school record for assists in a season (17) and tied the school mark with 19 goals. Her 55 points were easily a school record as she was named First-Team All-American. Bowdoin graduated two other All-Americans however, in goaltender Gillian McDonald and midfielder Amanda Burrage.

2004 PREVIEW: Bowdoin should not have trouble scoring, as the offense returns its top four scorers, who accounted for 47 of the team's school-record 67 tallies. Christi Gannon was overshadowed by O'Neil's scoring output, but tallied an impressive 14 goals, while Colleen McDonald (10 goals, two assists in 2003) gives the Polar Bears numerous offensive options. Replacing defensive stalwarts McDonald, Burrage, Hargate and Carr will be difficult for Coach Pearson, however. The Polar Bears will rely on underclassmen and newcomers to fill the void. Of course, Bowdoin has the always-difficult NESCAC schedule to navigate, which includes home dates against Conference Champion Middlebury (Oct. 3), Amherst (Oct. 2) and Bates (Oct. 13) among others. Key road contests include Colby (Sept. 18), Williams (Sept. 26) and Wesleyan (Oct. 30).

DID YOU KNOW: Christi Gannon's 14 goals last season were good enough to place her fifth on the school's single-season goal-scoring list.

COACH PEARSON SAYS: "We really have a good group of returners coming back, especially offensively. Our preseason has been emphasizing on developing and rebuilding the defense, as well as conditioning. For us to reach our potential this year, we are hoping for our sophomores to step into bigger roles and take on more of the workload."