Despite this being just Candace Waldie’s fifth year overall playing field hockey, she is one of the top forwards nationally, leading all NCAA Division II players in scoring with an average of 3.05 points per game.
The Merrimack junior from North Andover didn’t begin the sport until sophomore year of high school and didn’t play it as a college freshman.
“The reason I started playing field hockey is a lot of girls on my softball team were playing so I was like, ‘Yay, I’ll play another sport just to keep me going,’” Waldie said. “I didn’t really ever think it would catch on like this.”
Through 20 games, Waldie has 24 goals and 13 assists (61 points). Her Warriors team has a 17-3 record and plays Northeast-10 rival UMass Lowell at 4 p.m. Friday in the Division II Final Four at the Cushing Field Complex in Lowell.
Merrimack and UMass Lowell have developed an even more intense rivalry the past two years. In both 2011 and again this fall, Merrimack beat the River Hawks during the regular season, but then lost to them in the Northeast-10 finals.
This also is the second straight year the Warriors and River Hawks will meet in the Final Four. UMass Lowell posted a 3-1 victory last season.
For obvious reasons, Waldie is pumped for Friday’s game.
“It’s an intense game every time we play them,” she said. “There’s always been a rivalry ... but especially with the huge games we’ve been playing against them. Everyone gets excited for games, but especially against UMass Lowell everyone gets even more pumped up.”
Waldie, a 2010 North Andover graduate, was a superb high school athlete. Her junior and senior years she was an All-Scholastic, Eagle-Tribune All-Star and the CAL Division 1 MVP for field hockey.
But the 2010 Eagle-Tribune Female Athlete of the Year chose to play softball at UMass Amherst.