The St. Mary’s College of Maryland field hockey team is off to a historic start to its season and has already surpassed its win total from a season ago.

After finishing just 7-9 overall last year, the Seahawks currently hold a 9-0 record this fall, which is the best start in the program’s history.

“The team is playing very well together this season and focusing on getting better every day and every game,” St. Mary’s fourth-year head coach Jessica Lanham said.

Only two seniors are on the Seahawks roster, but Lanham noted that players throughout her lineup have all contributed to the team’s early success.

“Four freshmen have made an immediate impact on our team this season as well as returners who have stepped up their level of play,” Lanham said. “Our team leadership has also played a major role in our success this season.”

Senior goalkeeper Kelbey Egerland is a four-year member of the team, while the only other senior on the roster, forward Alyssa Demski, is a three-year member of the program.

“All the girls on the team are very close and I think that makes us work as a cohesive unit on and off the field,” Egerland said. “We had two hard weeks of preseason and everybody got super close because of those intense practices and we're really excited to play with each other.”

Egerland started one game for St. Mary’s in her first two seasons before starting 14 as a junior. So far this season, Egerland has protected the Seahawks’ cage and started all nine contests.

“Since I didn't really start on the team until last year, I learned how to be humble and how to be hungry,” Egerland said. “I've learned how to strive for excellence and never settle for my current performance. I feel like I also learned how to appreciate where I am and come out to every practice and game working two times harder than the day before.”

On Monday, the Capital Athletic Conference announced Egerland as its Defensive Player of the Week with two victories in goal while recording 12 saves and having accumulated a 0.50 goals against average. Currently, Egerland leads the CAC in save percentage (81.8%), goals against (4) and goals against average (0.50).

“Honestly, I was shocked [when I found out I earned CAC Defensive Player of the Week honors],” Egerland said. “Most of the time I'm very hard on myself and I'm rarely satisfied with my play, so it was very exciting to see other people recognize my hard work. It really just made me more excited for the next game so I can top my performance from last week.”

On Sept. 16, two Seahawks swept the CAC weekly honors as first-year forward Celina Kaufman earned Offensive Player of the Week accolades, while sophomore defender Sophie Carlson claimed Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“I think the reason our team has been so successful is that everyone bought into the idea that if we go out and we work hard, we can compete with any team on our schedule,” Egerland said. “Our team has doubted ourselves in the past, but this season our confidence and our level of play has increased.”

One week later, Seahawks junior forward Meghan Ronan earned CAC Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the first time this season. Ronan currently leads St. Mary’s in goals (7), assists (6), points (20) and game-winning goals (4).

"A big part of our success this season has been our team chemistry," Ronan said. "We are more than just a team, we are a family. On the field we push each other every single day to get better and off the field we are there for one another in times of struggle and joy."

St. Mary’s will look to remain unbeaten Saturday when the Seahawks host Neumann (Pa.) at Jamie L. Roberts Stadium for a game slated to begin at 1 p.m. during Hawktoberfest.

“This season has been great so far, it’s so exciting coming in as a freshman and seeing all these great new things happening with this team," first-year defender Angelina Arter said. "We’re all really coming together as one and working as one and as a family. It truly is a great thing to be a part of. I couldn’t be happier playing with these group of girls and having a great coach who is there for us on and off the field.“

The Seahawks are scheduled to begin CAC play with a home game versus Salisbury on Oct. 12.

“We're just super excited for the rest of this season, and I am so hyped to start conference play in two weeks so we can show the CAC what St. Mary's field hockey is all about,” Egerland said.

Men's soccer wins

The Seahawks ended a two-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a 2-1 home win over York (Pa.) in a CAC contest.

Head coach Alun Oliver, a 2004 St. Mary's College graduate, became the winningest coach in program history with his 77th career victory. The previous mark of 76 was held by former head coach and current assistant coach Herb Gainey.

Roshawn Panton gave St. Mary's a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute of the contest with Josh McRobie getting an assist. York answered with just less than three minutes left in the opening half to tie the game at 1.

McRobie broke the deadlock early in the second half and the goal held up as the game-winner. Anoi Hindle, a Huntingtown High School graduate from Huntingtown, picked up an assist.

St. Mary's (7-2-1, 1-1 CAC) returns to action on Saturday with a home conference game versus Salisbury at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @johnniswander2