Aug. 16, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - -- The Michigan State Field Hockey team has begun preparing for their 2012-2013 season. With many returnees, some new fresh faces, and a prepared coaching staff they are ready for the new season.
"We are focusing on preseason right now and after that we will take one game at a time," said redshirted junior and goal keeper Molly Cassidy. "We aren't just out there running and lifting as much as we have in past years. We are also focusing on our mental strength."
This season the team has added four freshmen to the team. Adrea Donaldson from West Vancouver came in first place in U18 Western summer games and trained with the Junior National Squad in 2012. Mallory Tyler was named Miss Field Hockey Kentucky as well as part of the NFHCA High School All Midwest Region Team. From Medford, NJ, Victoria Radwell participated in the Field Hockey National Tournament in 2010. As an alternate to the Junior Olympics in 2010, Sierra Patton joins the team from Chelsea, Mich. Patton also was selected to the National Futures Championship in 2010 and 2011.
"Our four freshmen this year already feel like they are part of the family," said head coach Helen Knull. "If one isn't sure what it means to be part of the MSU Field Hockey team, someone is sure to tell them."
Returning from last year as Big Ten in 2011 are Abby Barker and Adelle Lever. Barker, Lever, and Cassidy all return as Regional All Americans. Kristen Henn an All Big Ten and Regional All American in 2010 returns after medical redshirting last year. Becky Stiles was named to the US U21 squad in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.
"Last year we didn't reach our potential and we knew we had growth," said Knull. "It was a learning year and my first year as head coach. I have set my program standards for this year and know where I want to take it. It's good to let the girls know their role and what's expected."
The Michigan State Field Hockey team won the Big Ten title and the Big Ten Tournament in 2009 and this year's team hopes to have a comeback season.
"Our goal every year is to win the Big Ten Championship," said Knull. "We believe if you win the Big Ten you can make it to the NCAA and anything can happen from there."
The Spartans return with leading forwards Elizabeth Helffrich, Chelsy Coil, Allie Ahern, and Barker. Helffrich had a shot percentage of .300, with one game winning goal. Coil's shot percentage was .333, while playing in all 20 games. Ahern and Barker were the leading scorers last season with four and nine goals respectively.
Senior midfielder Lever had a total of four defensive saves in the 2011-12 season. Leading the team in assists were Katherine Jamieson and Heather Howie who had four assists each for the green and white.
Corey Block and Rachel Roberts return to the back position. Block started in every game last year and had one defensive save. Roberts will play her first season this year as a redshirted freshman. Returning to goal is Cassidy who started every game last season and finished the season with two shutouts, and 150 saves.
"I'm already seeing the team as a team this year which was our disconnect last year," said Knull. "They are working hard for each other and working for one common goal. They have individual goals which are based on the team goal. We talked about focusing on team first and competing to be excellent instead of average. Our focus to be a team is coming together."
Coming into their senior year Christie Jones, Jessica Lindner, Block, Lever, and Coil are able to play a record amount of games at home. With ten home games and ten away games, the team has a more evenly balanced schedule than previous years.
"Playing at home is awesome," said Lever."You can't let the other team beat you on your home turf. It's a pride thing."
The field hockey team will face the University of Michigan on August 18 as an exhibition and begin their regular season at Boston College on August 24. The team will have the first of their home games on August 31 against Stanford.