SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University field hockey team opens its 2021 spring season on Thursday afternoon at UMass Lowell. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
When play gets underway on Thursday, it will have been 487 days since the Black and Gold took the field for a game. In that time frame, a lot has changed for the Bulldogs.
First and foremost, Laura Gebhart will be coaching in her first game as the head coach of the Bulldogs. A four-time All-American at Penn St., Gebhart was an assistant her first season but was elevated to full-time head coach on Aug. 31, 2020.
Gebhart will oversee a roster that has a mixture of veterans and newcomers this spring. Bryant will have seven upperclassmen (5 seniors, 2 juniors) and eight underclassmen competing.
The upperclassmen will be led by the senior trio of Kylie Nelson, Madison Demand and Lauren Zimmerman, who have appeared in combined 153 games for the Black and Gold. Nelson has scored at least once in each of her three years at Bryant, notching a career-high two goals in 2018, and will serve as a co-captain with classmate Lyndsay Swanston. Kathryn Doorley is Bryant's fifth senior and brings 28 games of experience into the spring season.
One of Bryant's biggest strengths this year will be in the cage as two-year starter Marijn Jaarsma returns. Along with Swanston, the Bulldogs have two goalies that have started a combined 48 games. Jaarsma has played over 2,000 minutes in her career and has posted a 2.57 GAA and a .753 save percentage. Classmate Victoria Wypych gives the Bulldogs experience in the midfield, having appeared in 12 games.
Led by Taryn Rauff, Bryant's sophomore class is also primed for a big season. Rauff started all 19 games in 2019, scoring a team-high four goals. She recorded a pair of game-winning goals as well. Classmates Grayson Green, Phoebe Johnson, Sydney Swain and Ellie Morrison all saw considerable time as freshmen and are ready to take the next step this spring. Morrison started 16 games, while Swain started 13 in 2019.
Coach Gebhart is also excited about her four-member freshmen class that includes Lotte Guitink, Chloe Tilley, Ella Davison and Ashley Barron. Guitink enjoyed a stellar prep career in the Netherlands, Tilley was an all-state selection in Maine, Davison was a standout for Huntington Beach High in California and Barron starred at Longmeadow High in Massachusetts.
Bryant will play two non-conference games, Thursday at UMass Lowell and Sunday at Northeastern, before embarking on a six-game Northeast Conference schedule. The NEC championship game will be played the week of April 19-24.