MANCHESTER - This year there are some new faces on the Burr and Burton Academy Field Hockey team including a changing of the guard.

Coaches Barb Miceli and Julie Fifield have taken over the reins from Barbara Muench, who retired as the field hockey coach last spring.

Both Miceli and Fifield have coached field hockey at Burr and Burton before. Miceli coached for four years at Burr and Burton, but has not coached in the last 14 years. She also coached for one year at Fair Haven a long time ago, she said.

When Miceli stepped down as BBA's field hockey coach, Fifield took over. Fifield coached the team for 11 years before stepping down. Now, after a three year break, she has returned with Miceli as the co-coach of the team.

The roster was set on Tuesday and this year's team is a mix of veterans and new players with eight returning members and nine new players.

"They are an incredibly hard working bunch and we have a lot of excellent athletes this year," said Miceli. "The returning players are bringing a lot of skill and experience. We have some players who are brand new to the sport so skill development is where we're really going to be focusing and game strategy; getting these athletes to be field hockey players."

Not only is the experience level of the squad mixed, but the coaches also said that the ability of the players this year is also diverse.

I think we have a little bit of everything," said Fifield. "We have some kids that are very aggressive and [are] goal scorers and that's what they're going to do. We have some kids that are very skilled [in] technique. They've been playing for a while [and are] great [at] passing. I think we really have a mixed bunch this year that we're just trying to find certain places for on the team, but I think with what individually everyone can bring, obviously with their skill, it's going to make for a very solid team this year."

There are currently 31 girls in the program, but Miceli said they typically see an increase in the number of players once international students arrive. But that's not the only way they hope to see their numbers increase.

"We're hoping once school starts we might grab some more of the freshmen as well. But right now we have 31 in the program," Miceli said.

The Bulldogs scrimmaged against Mount Anthony Union High School on Wednesday and their season opener will be at Burr and Burton against Springfield on Friday, Aug. 30. In the first game, Fifield said there are a couple of things that she and Miceli will be looking for out of their team.

"We've been working a lot on just technique. We've been hammering our conditioning and technique this week [so] just seeing them using some of those skills," said Fifield. "It's going to take a few games for the kids to mull together, to learn the game, to understand it and to start putting it together."

Miceli said this year's team not only has a lot of speed, but a group of girls who have the desire to "play hard and do well" - two things she believes will be instrumental in the team being succesful this season.

Last year, the team went 1-10, winning one of their last games against Windsor - a record Miceli and Fifield are looking to improve upon this year

. "It's a completely different team this year and that's what we keep [telling] the kids. It's just different kids and seeing what happens this year," said Fifield. "It's great co-coaching because we can do so much more in a practice and in a game with more eyes on the field. It's just a completely different year and setup this year for them (the players)."