ASHLAND, Va. – Doubling their win total from 2016, the Randolph-Macon field hockey team recently completed its 2017 campaign with an overall record of 6-13 and 2-5 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. In head coach Jessica Weiss's second season, the team made the ODAC Tournament for the first time since 2014 and saw a young team grow by leaps and bounds quickly under the guidance of the team's three seniors. That guidance led to one of the seniors plus two freshmen earning All-ODAC honors, as voted on by the ODAC coaches and announced by the league office Tuesday.
Freshman Defender/Midfielder Georgia Drescher (Virginia Beach, Va. / Frank W. Cox) was named to the All-ODAC Second Team, while senior forward Victoria Cappadora (Manchester, Md. / Manchester Valley) and freshman forward/midfielder Maria Teresa Ambrogi-Torres (Richmond, Va. / Trinity Episcopal School) were named to the All-ODAC Third Team.
Cappadora, a graduating senior, was the team leader in goals and points. She earned nine goals and two assists, finishing with 20 points, while trying 33 shots this season, of which 23 were on goal. She finishes her career with 24 goals and five assists to total 53 points. Cappadora will rank 13th in Randolph-Macon history for most goals scored in a career.
"[Victoria's] on and off field leadership combined with her grit will be missed," head coach Jess Weiss said. "She was our enforcer, making sure the team abided by the standards, maintained their work rate and stayed on task. She set a true example of what it looks like to get after it every day and we are thrilled other coaches recognized that."
Cappadora's nine goals ranked tenth in the ODAC this season and she ranked 13th in total points.
Drescher finished the season with a goal and two assists, but her real impact was felt through the middle of the field, where she stood tall against attacking opponents while also ensuring that her fellow teammates got quality passes and scoring chances.
"Georgia was the staple of our midfield and was heavily relied on," Weiss said. "She handled that responsibility with grace and is one of the most dynamic players I've seen, which is evident in her second team selection. She's a special player who is very determined to fine tune her game as she knows her position is pivotal to the team's success."
Drescher's selection to the All-ODAC Second Team is the highest honor for a freshman since Carrie Jacobs in 2011.
Ambrogi-Torres scored the second-most goals on the team with seven. She led the team in assists with five and was just one point behind Cappadora. Amborgi-Torres took the most shots of anyone on the team with 49. Her five assists ranked eighth (tie) in the ODAC.
"Teresita's speed, nose for the goal and willingness to improve are a dangerous combination," Weiss said. "She's excited about each day, each practice, and each drill. She thrives in every competitive environment, which raises the team's level of play and makes her an absolute joy to coach."
In addition to Cappadora, also leaving the team with graduation will be senior forward Sara Sprinkel (Timonium, Md. / Dulaney). Sprinkel completes her 2017 season with two goals and an assist, the most goals in a season in her career.
"Sprinkel is our unsung hero – her passion for this program, support of her teammates and inspiring nature were truly what got the team through some tough days," Weiss said. "She was always a positive voice and the first to celebrate individual and team successes. You can't teach that."
Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Stanley (Bumpass, Va. / Louisa County) will also graduate in 2018.
"Kelsey has made an impact not only in R-MC and ODAC record books, but on her teammates," Weiss said. "She was often referred to as the team mom as she would do anything for anyone without hesitation."
Stanley finishes with 586 saves, which is fourth most in school history and seventh most in ODAC history. She will compete in the 2017 Victory Sports Tours/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III Senior Game on Saturday, November 18.
Overall, Weiss says the three seniors will leave the program with building blocks for the future.
"Our senior class embraced their roles and were the glue of this team. They've definitely left the program in a better place."
From their first game out, the Yellow Jackets knew they were going to have chances to win this season. A season-opening overtime over Frostburg State helped the Yellow Jackets, especially the 12 freshmen who saw action in their first collegiate match. With just three seniors and no juniors, some leadership roles on the team had to be taken by more underclassmen than in previous years.
"Our returning sophomores - Riley Greenwood (Chesapeake, Va. / Western Branch), Katie Thompson (Burke, Va. / Lake Braddock) and Ariel Salerno (Suffolk, Va. / Lakeland) - were faced with a different role than many sophomores, but the newcomers raved about their leadership, friendship and maturity," Weiss said.
R-MC finished the meaty part of its non-conference schedule 3-4, including wins over Ferrum and Wilson and an outing against #17 Christopher Newport at home, in which Stanley saved 22 shots and the team made five defensive saves, only allowing CNU to score twice. R-MC had allowed four goals to CNU in 2016.
"We try not to compare year to year, but in playing many of the same teams out of conference we felt we could close the gap in scoring margin and beat teams we fell to last season," Weiss said.
The same applied to conference games too. R-MC got wins over Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Wesleyan -- teams that R-MC weren't able to defeat last season. Cappadora had a career day against VWU, scoring four of her season's nine goals against the Marlins, including the overtime winner. With the two victories in conference, the Yellow Jackets punched a ticket to the ODAC Tournament for the first time since 2014. Making the tournament was one of the top priorities for the coaching staff – though one priority ranked higher.
"Our number one priority was defining who we are as a program and working to develop our culture," Weiss said. "The competitors in us, wanted the number in the win column to be higher but we knew that couldn't be our sole measure of success."
With the season now complete, R-MC turns to focus on what the future holds. Weiss says the team understands what it will take for the program to move to a next level.
"The progress they've made in such a short amount of time is impressive. It's pretty rare that this many underclassmen have so much game experience so we look forward to the fluidity of our team play in a year," Weiss said. "We are on the verge of something special and watching them develop as young women individually and collectively is going to be fun to watch."