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Senior field hockey goalkeeper Amanda DeLouise came to Quinnipiac University as a natural talent. She picked up the position as a Cheshire High School junior and then chose to walk on for Bobcats’ Head Coach Becca Kohli.
It took hard work to earn a scholarship and the varsity nod this fall. DeLouise is expected to start her first season opener tomorrow, at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.). Start time is 1 p.m. The teams haven’t played before.
“It’s an absolute honor to start for Quinnipiac. I’m excited for the opportunity and season. It looks like we have a strong defense and team,” stated DeLouise. “It feels good that Becca gave me that opportunity to prove myself. She believes in me and I think that is what got me here.”
DeLouise has played in 12 games, but the coaching staff previously saw inexperience at the Division I level. Her breakthrough came during three tournaments last spring.
“You saw everything click. Nothing had to be adjusted,” said Kohli. “It was good for her to get that experience. She has taken the nice road in the way of baby steps and did a nice job for us.”
Growing up, DeLouise was more likely to extend her softball career. She played up through Cheshire Youth Softball and the Cheshire Wildcats, developing into an All-State first baseman and captain in high school. But when the CHS field hockey program was short on goalkeepers, she showed immediate potential. DeLouise was a significant factor in Cheshire’s journey to the 2005 Class L Final. While losing to Greenwich 1-0, she shared MVP with the Cardinals’ Marlotte Van den Bergh (goal). The Rams dropped four meetings to Greenwich in two years, yet DeLouise surrendered just one goal in each of the last three games. She captained the 2006 team with classmate Stephanie Cohen (Hartwick College; Oneonta, New York).
“It started to change when I took on the goalie position in field hockey,” explained DeLouise, of bypassing college softball. “Quinnipiac came to me and I couldn’t pass that up. I love the coaching staff and community.”
“I think Amanda has always had the fundamentals,” reflected Kohli, who discovered DeLouise in her senior season. “She was a strong athlete with only two years of goalkeeping experience. It was a good thing because she didn’t have any bad habits.”
Goalkeeping can be particularly competitive. Unlike forward, midfield, and defense, there is often a single player that sees the majority of the minutes. DeLouise felt fortunate to step into a perfect situation. Jenna Grossman, a 2010 graduate and captain last fall, had extensive experience and represented a mentor. Grossman started four years, earning Northeast Conference and national recognition.
“Although Jenna wasn’t a senior at that time (2007), she showed me how everything worked,” explained DeLouise. “We had a similar style of play coming in as freshmen. I didn’t have too much training, so it was good to learn from her. We didn’t have that common rivalry. We are friends on and off the field.”
DeLouise did get an opportunity when Grossman was sidelined for a couple games two years ago. She started two of six appearances, collecting her first win (2-1) over Monmouth University.
“I think it is definitely going to help me. It got the nerves out,” stated DeLouise. “I think the biggest challenge was the competition. The conditioning and pace were on a different level. Time management is something I’ve become good at.”
“I saw her get in games and play pressure situations,” added Kohli. “She takes everything in stride and doesn’t take anything for granted.”
DeLouise played three games in 2009. Quinnipiac went 6-12, reaching the NEC semifinals.
“I realize my role on that team. Jenna wanted to push me,” said DeLouise. “I knew I would get there someday. I guess the patience paid off. The teammates on the sideline are really the key to the success of the games. They wouldn’t go as smoothly (without them).”
This season has been about transitioning into a leadership role. Goalkeeper Jessica Bigelsen is among 11 freshmen. Additionally, Grossman has returned as a graduate assistant.
“It’s really nice. The first day she came back, I gave her a big hug,” stated DeLouise, who competes with junior goalkeeper Nicole Lewis and Bigelsen. “Nicole got to work with Jenna last year. She thought it was funny how well Jenna and I get along. I think Jess is very receptive to coaching and will come along nicely.”
DeLouise and Grossman coached together last summer, leading a Cheshire-based team to the 18-U gold medal at the Nutmeg State Games. Senior Megan McCreedy also coached this year. CHS Head Coach Eileen Gallagher, a 2003 graduate of Quinnipiac and former field hockey assistant, offered them the opportunity.
“It will be good to see Jenna not just as her coach, but a teammate that knows her very well,” stated Kohli.
Captains Katie Van Nostrand and Tina Watkins, along with MacKenzie Liptak, also return for their final seasons. Quinnipiac was ranked third in the NEC pre-season poll. Lock Haven University, the four-time defending champion, has eliminated the Bobcats in the last two years.
“I think the friendships and support system from my team has been unbelievable,” said DeLouise. “We want to make the NEC tournament and come out on top.”
Kohli feels excitement is a good word for the season. Boston College visits for the home opener on Sept. 3, at 4 p.m.
“I will be thankful for every second I’m in the game,” explained DeLouise, who loves the adrenaline rush and support in playing goalkeeper. “It’s good knowing that your teammates trust you to have their back.”