Article by Adam Denn <email@example.com>
Dominance. It’s a word used often to describe the Ursinus Field Hockey program, for good reason. The program carried a record of 191-60-2 across the legendary tenure of coach Eleanor Frost Snell from 1933-1971, making their mark as a trailblazing sports program for Ursinus College. They would go on to even win a national championship in 2006, defeating Messiah to take home the school’s first championship in any sport since 1990. This rich history has placed a good amount of pressure upon recent squads to meet this standard of excellence. This year’s team has done exactly that and more.
The Bears began this season with bright hopes, a young and talented team with lots of promise. They found themselves losing 3 All-Centennial Conference seniors this past offseason, however, after an encouraging 2022 season. That’s not even to mention the difficult schedule the Bears faced, going up against five ranked top 25 Division 3 teams in the country to start the season, including a matchup with the defending national runner-ups John Hopkins. Coach Janelle Bonner pointed to the team’s early schedule as a way to “prepare for high level skills and team execution,” allowing them to “learn and grow for conference play.” But even through the challenges this schedule represented, the Bears battled through. The team rolled through #20 William Smith, #23 Lynchburg, and #18 Rowan, huge wins that have propelled the team to a ranking of 16th in the country.
With the team reaching their highest national ranking since the 2022 Preseason, there certainly is a lot to be excited about at Snell Field. A large piece of this excitement has been the exceptional play of junior Mary Lauren Franz, who was awarded Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week earlier this month for her contributions against Lynchburg. Franz ranks second in the conference with 6 goals and 30 shots on goal, showcasing her attacking nature on the pitch. She leads what has been an incredibly explosive Bears offense this season, with 6 more goals through 9 games than last season. This explosion has been fueled by the contributions of the Bears’ freshman class as well, with multiple first years providing massive contributions. Freshman Marie Brainard stands second on the team in goals, with freshman Kirsten Johnston contributing significant minutes as well. Coach Bonner pointed to the class’ ability to “adapt well and quickly into who we are as a program,” allowing the team to fit seamlessly together. It is with this teamwork that the team has created a culture “centered around being unified, committed, fearless, and humble” according to Franz, emphasizing the importance of a “positive team culture” to support each other throughout the ups and downs of a season. With such a sound structure, they surely will be a hard team to beat.
As they prepare for conference play, the Bears sit at 6-3, but they’re not satisfied. Both Coach Bonner and Franz referred to a need for better team consistency, with Franz saying the team “needed to work on keeping the same energy and intensity throughout four quarters” as they continue down the stretch. They face a heavy schedule as they move towards conference championships, facing off against rivals Dickinson and Franklin and Marshall over a challenging last 7 games. But with their talent and strong team-first attitude, the Bears’ success should only continue. “This team is a fierce group of competitors with high expectations, so I am excited to see what they can do,” exclaimed Coach Bonner. To speak for the Ursinus community, we feel the same. Go support the Bears as they take on Dickinson College this Saturday!