NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Several members of the seventh-ranked Merrimack field hockey team earned the highest postseason accolade possible on Tuesday, as six players were named to the Longstreth/NFHCA Division II All-American Teams, the association announced today.
Repeating as a first-team member after earning the distinct recognition last fall, senior forward April Daugherty (Wakefield, R.I.) was again named a First-Team All-American, while junior midfielder Jessica Otis (Pittsford, N.H.) also found a spot on the First Team after a breakout season.
The six selections marks the most All-American nominations in a single season in program history, as head coach Anne Rounce has now coached seven All-Americans in the past three years. Before the 2010 campaign, Merrimack had garnered just two All-Americans.
Four more Warriors dotted the All-America Second Team highlighted by Northeast-10 Goalkeeper of the Year Kerri Bergquist (Mashpee, Mass.), along with fellow senior Jen Otis (Penacook, N.H.). Two juniors also were named Second-Team All-Americans, including the nation's leading scorer in forward Candace Waldie (North Andover, Mass.), as well as defender Sarah Dunbar (Hubbardston, Mass.), as the duo enjoyed stellar seasons on their respective ends of the turf during the 2012 campaign.
"I know the girls would trade in these individual honors for a National Championship, but we are extremely honored," Rounce said after the announcement. "This program has worked extremely hard over the past five years to make the impact that it has. We will continue to work hard in the off-season to make a run for another championship next fall."
Daugherty wrapped up her final year with the program with another outstanding season on the offensive end, ranking second on the team with 52 points (21g, 10a) one year after setting a single-season program record with 50 points. The Wakefield, R.I., native and 2011 NE-10 Player of the Year leaves the program as arguably the greatest player to ever don a Merrimack uniform after establishing new career records in all scoring categories. She becomes the program's first-ever three-time All-American after also being named a Second-Team All-American as a freshman.
"April is a once-in-a-lifetime player to coach," Rounce said. "To be a three-time All-American for a program that wasn't on the map just four years ago is astonishing. Her dedication, along with her other four senior classmates, is tremendous and helped us build a solid foundation for Merrimack field hockey."
Despite ranking fourth on the team in scoring with 19 points (7g, 5a), Jessica Otis was recognized as one of the nation's top midfielders, and the Pittsford, N.Y., native's value to the Warriors extended well beyond what the final scoring leader boards might indicate. Otis was a matchup nightmare at the wing midfield position and was responsible for drawing countless penalty corners with her blazing speed through the attacking circle. She finished the season with two game-winners and an impressive 37 shots on goal (.416 SOG%).
Bergquist followed up a tremendous junior season – during which she was also named a First-Team All American – with an even better senior campaign. The Mashpee, Mass., native led the NE-10 and was near the top of the country with an .832 save percentage while posting a 17-4 record between the pipes and an impressive 1.28 goals-against average. The senior also notched seven shutouts over the course of the year, as well.
A First-Team All-American from a year ago, co-captain Jen Otis started in all 21 games and ranked third on the team with 31 points (11g, 9a). Her 102 total shots ranked second on the squad and converted the team's only penalty stroke of the year.
"For Jen and Kerri to be named two-time All-Americans is a great honor," Rounce said. "Jen's skill set in our midfield line allowed for a great deal of distribution, along with executing our stretch offense. And of course, Kerri has been our wall in the backfield for the past four years."
One season after Daugherty had posted one of the best single-season campaigns in program history, Waldie shattered that mark with a 61-point campaign in 2012. The local North Andover product led the country in scoring and converted at more than a 1-for-4 clip, boasting a stellar shooting percentage of .270 on the year. Waldie also blew away the old single-season record with nine game-winning goals, including one in overtime, and posted a hat trick on two occasions. She also scored a school-record six goals in a victory against Saint Michael's in early September.
Finally, Dunbar enjoyed a stellar season as a junior after anchoring the team's backline. The Hubbardston, Mass., native appeared in every game with 13 starts and notched two goals on five shot attempts (.400 SH%). Dunbar also led the squad with four defensive saves, many coming at crucial moments in close contests.
"To see three more juniors recognized is a terrific step for our program," Rounce said. "Our junior class as a whole took a lot of positive steps this summer and truly dedicated time to expand their skill set. Their hard work paid off as the junior class members were key contributors throughout the season."
Merrimack finished the season with a program-record 17 victories, tying the single-season wins mark established a year ago. The Warriors also clinched their second straight NE-10 regular season title and advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the second year in a row.