Spartans Brace for Challenging 2013 Slate
National Champion, Eight NCAA Teams Dot Field Hockey Schedule
June 18, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. -- - Michigan State field hockey coach Helen Knull has announced the Spartan field hockey schedule for 2013, pulling together a challenging slate for her team this fall. MSU will face eight NCAA tournament teams in its 19-game schedule, and will play non-conference games against national-caliber competition on both coasts in addition to the always-challenging Big Ten schedule.
Two of the four participants in last year's National Championship weekend (Syracuse and National Champion Princeton) are on the schedule, in addition to three conference champions: Miami (MAC), Old Dominion (CAA), and Stanford (NorPac)
A home scrimmage against archrival Michigan on Aug. 24 gives the Spartans their first measuring stick of the new season, playing external competition for the first time in fall camp. MSU heads to California for a three-game opening trip, with a game at Cal on Aug. 30 and two at Stanford - the Spartans will take on Pacific at the Cardinal's facility on Sept. 1 before taking on the host team the next day. Cal finished 8-12 in 2012 and earned a third-place finish in the NorPac Tournament after a loss in the semifinals to Stanford, which finished the season 16-7 overall, reached the NCAA Tournament, and captured the NorPac Championship for the fifth time in six years. Pacific looks to rebound from a 5-12 season in 2012, and has a new head coach, former Cal assistant Andy Smith.
MSU gets its first home games Sept. 6-8, hosting the Auto Owners Insurance MSU Invitational. The Spartans tangle with Syracuse on the first day in the nightcap, after Monmouth-Kent State kick off the tournament at 4:30 p.m. On Sunday, the Spartans will play Monmouth, and Syracuse faces off with Kent State. The Orange is coming off a 19-3 season and advanced to the Final Four ; Syracuse was ranked No. 1 in the NFHCA Coaches poll for three straight weeks during the season. Monmouth finished 8-13 overall but went 5-2 in Northeast Conference play, falling to Rider in the conference championship game, one game short of the NCAA Tournament. Kent State, Knull's alma mater, went 9-13 in 2012 and fell to Miami in the MAC Championship game.
The following weekend, the Spartans head east for the first two of four straight road games. On Sept. 13, MSU will play at defending National Champion Princeton, which boasted a 21-1 record in 2012. On Sunday, Sept. 15, the MSU coaching staff will see a familiar face on the sideline when it plays Delaware, which is coached by former Spartan mentor Rolf van de Kerkhof. The Blue Hens are coming off a fifth-place finish in the CAA last season (8-12 overall record) and advanced to the CAA semifinals.
Another challenging road weekend will await the Spartans when they head to Louisville for games against Northeastern (Sept. 20) and Old Dominion (Sept. 22). Both are NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago; Northeastern compiled a 14-7 record (5-2 CAA) and fell to ODU in the CAA finals; the Lady Monarchs, who will enter the BIG EAST as an associate member in field hockey in 2013, are coming off a 15-6 campaign in which they advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Andrew Griffiths enters his first year as the ODU coach, replacing legendary coach Beth Anders, who retired at the completion of the 2012 season after 30 years.
"I am pleased with the balance and strength of our 2013 schedule," said Knull. "Opening Labor Day weekend out in California will be a good test for the squad, playing three regional games on the West Coast. We have a large number of alumni and family support in the Princeton area, so we are looking forward to having a strong Spartan presence on the East Coast when we head there. Also, we finish our East Coast swing playing former MSU coach Rolf van de Kerkhof and the University of Delaware. To finish out non-conference play we head to Louisville to play Old Dominion and Northeastern. That's a challenging schedule with quality teams that will prepare us for a tough Big Ten schedule as well as post-season play."
MSU opens Big Ten play on Saturday, Sept. 28 when it welcomes Ohio State to town, then travels to Indiana on Oct. 4 for the first B1G road game of the year. MSU will also play at Miami (Sunday, Oct. 6) as part of the Indiana trip; the Red Hawks are the defending MAC champions, and lost in the play-in game for the NCAA Tournament to NorPac winner Stanford.
The Spartans return home for a date with Michigan on Friday, Oct. 11 at Ralph Young Field; the Wolverines were one of three Big Ten representatives in the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Ball State visits East Lansing two days later (Oct. 13).
Penn State hosts the Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 19; the Nittany Lions were another Big Ten team which advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season (earning the No. 4 overall seed), and ascending to the No. 3 spot in the National Rankings toward season's end. MSU hosts its two final games of the regular season at Ralph Young Field the following week; Central Michigan visits on Tuesday, Oct. 22. CMU is coming off a 7-12 season, which included a 3-2 mark in MAC play, good enough for a third place finish in the conference standings. On Saturday, Oct. 26, MSU will host its senior day against Northwestern.
MSU will play its final regular-season game at Big Ten rival Iowa, which was an NCAA Tournament team a year ago and finished the year 14-6 overall.
"The Big Ten this year is going to be a battle with many experienced and talented squads returning," noted Knull. "I believe that Michigan State is in a great position to move up the rankings as we return an experienced squad who are preparing and hungry to go for a Big Ten Title. The Senior Class of Kristen Henn, Adelle Lever, Katherine Jamieson, Molly Cassidy and Mallory McDonagh bring a lot of energy, experience and excitement to the team and are determined to lead the team to great things."