Missouri State alumna Gabby Gomez Sosa will begin her fourth season as the sideline boss for the Missouri State field hockey team in 2014, and will look to continue building upon improvements the program made in 2013. The Bears made significant strides on defense last season, as they reduced their number of goals allowed by 26 percent compared to the 2012. Similarly, MSU cut its number of shots allowed by 24 percent over the same period of time.
Under Gomez Sosa's leadership, senior Hillary Lawless earned her second All-MAC team selection in 2013 after finishing her senior campaign among the conference's top 10 players in a number of categories, including shots (35), goals (6), and points per game (0.81). Lawless also chipped in a defensive save in 2013, the first of her career. The fourth-year star finished her Missouri State career in fifth place on the school's all-time points list (73), and tied for eighth place on the list in assists (15) with the Bears head coach. Gomez Sosa also helped the development of sophomore Charlie Redhead, who was named to her first All-MAC team in 2013 as a result of posting career highs in goals and assists (2), points (6), shots (12) and shot percentage (.167).
Gomez Sosa's 2013 squad returned a slew of talented players from the previous season, as the 2012 team featured 13 freshmen and was the youngest MSU squad in 15 seasons. The Bears defied their inexperience early on and became the first MSU field hockey team to start Mid-American Conference play with a 2-0 record.
Gomez Sosa also helped several student-athletes take the next step in their development. Lawless led the Bears in scoring with 21 points, and finished the year in sixth place on Missouri State's career points list, passing her head coach on the list along the way. The offense also included all-conference performer Holly Scherer, a 2013 sophomore who finished among the MAC's top-10 in assists (five) and assists per game (0.31). Scherer was also second on the team in shots (32) and shots on goal (20). Meanwhile, senior Reiann Stoute was the national individual leader in defensive saves, and the Bears as a team were also first in that category. Lawless, Scherer and Stoute claimed spots on the All-MAC First Team, while Scherer was a second-team pick.
Gomez Sosa took over the head coaching duties of the program effective January 2011, making her the program's sixth head coach in its 40-year history. In her first season as the Bears' head coach, Gomez Sosa produced three All-Mid-American Conference players and three player of the week honors. Gomez Sosa also coached the team to the most regular season wins since 2004 with seven.
During the 2011 season, Gomez Sosa had three athletes ranked in the conference top ten in shots per game, points per game, and goals per game. She also had two athletes ranked in the conference top ten in assists per game, defensive saves, saves, goals against average, and save percentage. Two of Gomez Sosa's athletes led their statistical category (points per game and defensive saves) in conference. Her defensive squad finished seventh in the nation in defensive saves (13), with player Reiann Stoute kicking in eight of her own to rank her fourth in the nation. Under Gomez Sosa's guidance, Casey Bayliss finished the season 15th in the nation in points per game and 13th in goals per game.
The 2005 graduate of Missouri State had been an assistant on the Bears staff for the 2009 and 2010 seasons under Dawn Callahan. In her two seasons as an assistant, she helped coach three players to All-MAC recognition and two top-eight goal scorers in the conference. The team also improved its overall and MAC win totals from 2009 to 2010.
When Gomez Sosa completed her MSU playing career in 2004, she was one of the most decorated field hockey athletes in school history. She was named to the NorPac All-Conference team all four seasons and won the conference's Rookie of the Year Award in 2001. From 2002-04, she was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-West Region team, and her senior season she became the first Bear honored on the NFHCA All-America Team (third team). Gomez Sosa was a two-time team captain and remains the only Missouri State player ever to receive the All-America distinction from the NFHCA.
Gomez Sosa's accolades from the NFHCA continued to roll in during 2004, as she was one of only 42 senior field hockey players in the United States who were selected to the prestigious NFHCA North/South Senior All-Star Game in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Bears' coach lists that game as the biggest achievement of her playing career.
Throughout her career, she played just as well in the postseason as she did in the regular season. She was named the NorPac Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2003 and made the All-Tournament team in 2003 and 2004. She was also picked as Missouri State Most Valuable Player during her senior season.
When Gomez Sosa left the Bears, she left her name littered throughout the history books. Her 55 career points were sixth on the Bears all-time list, while her 15 assists placed her eighth. As a senior, Gomez Sosa posted eight assists, the eighth-highest single-season total in Bear history. She also scored 20 goals in her four years playing under Dawn Callahan, earning 67 starts in 71 matches.
In December 2005, she earned her bachelor's in Spanish education from Missouri State and has been active in the classroom ever since. She has taught at Ozark and Parkview High Schools locally before moving to Germantown, Pa., in 2006 where she was as a full-time Spanish teacher and assistant soccer coach at Delaware Valley Charter High School.
Gomez Sosa was born in Uruguay and moved to Montreal when she was 10 years old. She is fluent in Spanish, French and English. Gomez Sosa resides in Springfield with her husband Tony Piazza -- a former Missouri State baseball player -- and their children, Julian and Camila Anne. In 2012, Gomez Sosa earned her USA Field Hockey Level II Coaching Certification, the second highest certification in USA Field Hockey, just under the international level. She also graduated from the NCAA Women's Coaches Academy in 2012.