Ithaca College senior Rachael Greener found herself in a new role for the 1991 season.
The 1988 North Carroll graduate found herself switched from forward to right link on the Ithaca field hockey team.
The transition from a purely offensive position to an offensive and defensive spot -- similar to a midfielder in soccer or lacrosse --might cause one to cringe, particularly since Greener was the top scorer for the Bombers in 1990. But for Greener the switch has been more of a challenge.
"I'm involved a lot more in the transitional play. I set people up for the shots," said the 21-year-old of her new role. "In my mind, I'm more of an offensive player than a defensive player. I usually push up more when we have the ball."
Greener's ninegoals and four assists led the Bombers offense last year. This year,she wasn't on the front line, but she did have a big hand in Ithaca reaching the NCAA Division III national tournament starting this weekend.
"No doubt about it, this is her best year," said Ithaca head coach Doris Kostrinsky of her co-captain. "She has come in here in the best shape she's ever been in and played a lot of hockey over the summer."
Greener might not have scored as many points as last year,finishing the regular season with seven goals (second leading scorerfor the Bombers), but did top the team in assists with 11.
"She played that position (link) some last year," said the coach. "She has very good stick work, and I felt she would settle in at link and set people up. She learned to play a lot more defense and has improved."
The Bombers, currently ranked sixth nationally with a 13-6-1 record, lost some of their defensive players from last year, and this yearmost of the front line consists of underclassmen. The need for a strong midfield existed entering the 1991 season, and Greener filled thevoid.
The role Greener plays is not just as right link. She is also striker on corner shots and a team leader.
"She has been the most consistent player this year and definitely one of the key players on the team," said Kostrinsky. "She always gives 100 percent and, given the conditions, looks for an All-American selection."
Being on a winning team and a leader has always been part of Greener's history. She was leading forward on the 1987 and 1988 North Carroll state finalist teams.
"She was always a hustler and enthusiastic," said former North Carroll coach Susan Welliver. "She was good at getting theteam together and very teachable."
Welliver recalled a regional playoff game in 1986 when Greener was injured with a sprained ankle yet scored the winning goal.
As co-captain for the Panthers, Greenerled the team in her junior year with five goals and five assists.
It was the winning ways and her desire for a highly competitive teamthat led Greener to Ithaca. The Bombers won a national title in 1982and were second in 1983. Last year Ithaca won a state title, but this year were knocked out after two games last weekend after losing to Hartwick, 1-0, and Hamilton, 3-2.
"I took a look at the schedule,"said Greener of her reason for choosing Ithaca, "and it seemed a very competitive schedule. Most of the teams we play have been seeded nationally."
Since Greener and Ithaca have joined forces, both have benefited. Greener is now the sixth in career assists for Ithaca with18 -- the most assists for any player since 1983. She also is sixth on the all-time scoring list with 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points.
The Bombers and Greener go into the eight-team NCAA tournamentSaturday at Lock Haven (Pa.) University. The Bombers will face Ohio Wesleyan (16-2-3) in the first-round game.
"Each year is different, last year I was top-scorer and this year I get a feel for a new position," Greener said. "This year, the team is young and I'm coming inas a role leader."
tent' for bombers