GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference has announced the addition of field hockey as a conference-sanctioned sport beginning in the 2015-16 athletic season, the league office announced on Tuesday. The conference's 18th sport offering, field hockey becomes the ninth women's sport sponsored by the NEAC. Wells will enter its 40th season sponsoring field hockey as a varsity sport in 2015-16.
"We are very excited to be adding a new sport next fall and especially excited that it is women's field hockey," said NEAC Commissioner Candice Murray. "The conference is eager to continue to grow this sport over the next several years and to establish it as an NCAA automatic qualifying sport within the NEAC."
Wells will compete against teams from Morrisville State College, Wilson College and a brand-new team fielded by the Wolfpack of Keuka College. The Express will also renew a conference rivalry with the Phoenix of Wilson College, former members of the Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference where the Express last competed in a field hockey conference from 1996 to 2006.
"Given our longstanding tradition of playing field hockey at Wells, our College is thrilled to be among the founding teams granted the opportunity to compete for a conference title," said Director of Athletics Michael Lindberg. "The addition of a NEAC field hockey championship game enriches the student-athlete experience at Wells College."
In conference play, Wells posted 19 victories against league opponents dating back to the 1996 season and came the closest to an AWCC title in 2004, falling in the championship game to Notre Dame (Md.), 2-0, on Nov. 7, 2004. For her efforts during the highly-successful 2004 season, Kate McLaren '05 was named the league's Most Outstanding Player and Lyn LaBar was tabbed as the conference's Coach of the Year following a poll of her peers.
The Express have played against Morrisville State 10 times since Sept. 3, 2006 while Wells and the Phoenix have met on 28 occasions dating back to Oct. 24, 1993. Keuka had sponsored field hockey in the 1970's and 1980's but the Finger Lakes rivals have not opposed one another in the sport. With Keuka constructing a new turf field slated to open in the fall of 2015, the NEAC was able to create a field hockey conference with four of its member institutions.
Field hockey has been a long-standing tradition on the Aurora campus dating back to the turn of the century. Prior to the Odd-Even basketball game we know of today, the odds and evens competed in a friendly game of field hockey on the Athletic Association Field. The sport made its varsity debut during the 1976-77 athletic season as one of the first offerings of the newly-created intercollegiate athletics department at Wells.
The NEAC Championship for field hockey is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at 2 p.m.