The MSU field hockey team officially is ready to take the field in 2012. But for the time being, they won’t be doing it in East Lansing. Or anywhere in Michigan, for that matter.
The Spartans open up their regular season on the east coast, as they take on Boston College today at 1 p.m. and conclude the trip Sunday with a 12 p.m. meeting with Maine. In a previous exhibition match this season, the Spartans battled Michigan on the road in Ann Arbor — a game which MSU lost, 2-1.
Despite being a young team, which the Spartans definitely are, there won’t be much time room for a learning curve as the Eagles enter Friday’s matchup ranked 17th in the nation.
Boston College, which is coming off of a win and a tie in exhibitions against Colgate and Connecticut, respectively, looks to build on their 10-9 (9-5) finish in 2011 and will open up their season against an unfamiliar Spartan team.
However, Maine and MSU are significantly more familiar with each other, as the teams have faced off each of the previous two seasons — most recently when Maine beat the Spartans, 4-1, in 2011. Since the last time these teams met, Maine welcomed a large recruiting class, resulting in a lot of turnover from a season ago.
The Spartans have done just the opposite, returning virtually all of last year’s team. Maine likely will see a team that is almost identical to the one they saw in 2011 — with another year of experience under their respective belts.
Following the two-game road trip, MSU returns for a homestand, opening their home slate with Stanford at 3 p.m. on Aug. 31 and continuing with Miami (Ohio) two days later at 4 p.m.
The Big Ten announced its list of 2012 field hockey Players to Watch List and it includes a trio of Spartans.
Junior goalkeeper Molly Cassidy, senior midfielder Adelle Lever and sophomore midfielder Becky Stiles are among 18 of the top players in the Big Ten headed into the season.
Cassidy — who begins her third season as MSU’s starting goalkeeper — has accumulated 258 saves in the last two seasons, asserting herself as a staple on the Spartan roster.
An Academic All-Big Ten honoree a season ago, Lever enters her final season looking to provide leadership on a young MSU roster. Level also was named a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in 2011 and finished the year tied for second in the Big Ten with four defensive saves.
After garnering acclaim as a member of U21 National Field Hockey team, Stiles will be a valuable piece when she rejoins the team. During her first season with the Spartans, Stiles recorded one goal and three assists on offense.