Field hockey team follows Heavens’ lead

Any field hockey coach will tell you that one of the most important building blocks for any successful team is a talented goalkeeper that can lead the team.The Catamounts field hockey team boasts such a team leader in junior goalie Kristen Heavens.Following a redshirt season during her freshman year at UVM, Heavens has steadily gained respect throughout the field hockey community as one of the top goalkeepers in the America East Conference.Heavens’ 100 saves and five shutouts last season were second-best in the conference, causing many to call her sophomore year a breakout season.However, UVM head coach Nicki Houghton was aware of Heavens’ abilities all along, she said.”Kristen has a high technical knowledge, and she came in here with the tools and resources to lead the program,” Houghton said. “She showed a lot of leadership, poise and composure on the field from day one.”With all of her success in the cage, Heavens is now only five victories away from holding the UVM record, but, in typical leadership fashion, she is too focused on the team’s performance to worry about her own accolades.”It doesn’t make much of a difference to me,” Heavens said. “Stats are simply stats, and if you get caught up in them, it’s no longer a team game.”That attitude has served the Cats well so far this season, as they have put together a solid 4-4 record which includes a victory over nationally ranked Ohio State en route to winning the annual Sheraton Catamount Classic.”The Ohio State game gave us a lot of confidence,” Heavens said. “To beat a team of that caliber is great – it shows what kind of team we are.”Houghton echoed Heavens’ sentiment, while looking forward to the difficult remaining schedule that faces her team.”We challenge our team with a very strong non-conference schedule, and that victory was a nice boost of confidence, especially because we were able to execute our game plan,” Houghton said.No matter who the Catamounts face, however, Heavens’ hopes for her team this season are clear and simple.”We are working on playing as a unit in a more team-oriented fashion, and of course our ultimate goal is to reach the conference finals,” Heavens said.Such a feat would be a huge step for a program that has been knocked out in the America East semifinals the past three seasons.For now, though, Houghton is guiding her team along one game at a time, with the comfortable reassurance of having one of the conference’s premier goalies wearing green and gold.