By Kacie Stettner and Miguel Gonzalez Correspondents
Having just come off an extremely successful 2014 season, the now reigning national champions, the College’s field hockey team, ended last season with an outstanding record of 23-1-0. The team is in the spotlight like never before, and with the loss of some key graduated seniors, the women will be stepping up their play to fill the big shoes of those star players.
Last season was full of excitement for the team, ranking first in the South Atlantic Region with a record of 15-1. Snatching the number one spot in the Southern Region was Salisbury University — the Lions’ sole defeater last season — in a close match against the Seagulls, which ended in a score of 1-3.
The Lions greatly outshot Salisbury in the second half, and forced more penalty corners (14 to Salisbury’s three). These statistics prove that the team is more than capable of defeating the team this year, as long as they stick to the fundamentals and are able to finish their plays effectively. The College’s only goal during the match was by then-sophomore midfielder Jaclyn Douglas.
With an extremely young team this year, there is a plethora of talent waiting to be unveiled. The lone senior on the team, attacker Alicia Wagner, will be joined on the field by a group of mostly juniors and sophomores, all of whom have their own skills to bring to the game. Wagner played a key role in the 2014 national semifinals with her “insurance goal” against Messiah College, locking in the Lions’ victory.
Having won their 11th NCAA championship, the College’s field hockey team has tremendous expectations this upcoming season. The underclassmen will need to step up to replace the contributions of graduated players, such as Lindsey Hatch and Erin Healy. Fortunately, the team has retained the majority of their impenetrable defense, such as juniors Lexi Smith and Alexa Magnotta, who gave up nothing during the NCAA tournament. Notable returning players are senior midfielder/defender Mikayla Cimilluca (one goal, one assist), junior forward/midfielder Danielle Andreula (eight goals, three assists), junior midfielder/forward Jaclyn Douglas (22 goals, seven assists) and junior goalkeeper Kelly Schlupp (54 Saves).
Coached by last year’s NFHCA Division III National Coach of the Year recipient Sharon Pfluger, the Lions will be looking to continue their dominance in the competitive South Atlantic region and extend their impressive 15-game win streak.
The most enduring obstacles this upcoming season will be avenging last year’s loss from Salisbury University and competing against Landmark Conference powerhouse Juniata College. The Lions begin their season away at Stevens Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and play at home against Fairleigh Dickinson University on Tuesday, Sept. 8.