New-look Lions are ready to rumble

There are 12 returning players part of the championship-winning 2012 team. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

One year removed from the Division III National Title, the women’s field hockey team is primed to make another impressive run. Although very optimistic, there is one question mark that remains. Due to graduation, the Lions will have only one senior on the roster this season.   Yet, despite not having a large upperclassmen presence, the women are confident that the 10 upcoming freshmen will be able to rise to the occasion.

“Before I got (to practice), I was nervous because there were only 12 returning players from last year,” said Sarah Cummings, the lone senior on the team. “Since these few days have gone by, I am much more confident because everyone came in ready to go right off the bat.”

According to Cummings, the team’s camaraderie will play a large part in how the team performs.
“We definitely need to work together and communicate as a team,” she said. “If we are together all the time (both on and off the field), then we will be able to play better together.”

With only one senior, it will be up to the junior class to lead by example. With six currently on the roster who hoisted the national trophy, these women know how to play in the big moments.

“I am very excited and looking forward to it because we have a great group of girls,” Cummings said. “Even though they are underclassmen, they still got a lot of experience in so that will definitely help us out this year.”

Although the women are eager to reach the NCAA tournament, the first step is to concentrate on winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference. This title would help to secure a bid to nationals. In order to do so, however, they must compete with in-conference teams such as Montclair State and Rowan University. Not only are these schools the Lions’ main rivals, but they are also consistently ranked among the nation’s best.

“For us to win nationals again, we are all going to have to work together throughout the entire season,” Cummings said.  “It started the first day of the season and we will just take it game by game.”

The first matchup for the women is the away game against Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday, Aug. 31. The following week, on Sept. 7, is the Lions’ home opener against Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham.

“In just (the few practices we have had) so far we have already gotten a lot accomplished,” Cummings said. “I think we will continue to do that for the rest of the season so I am feeling pretty confident.”