Aug. 19, 2010
East Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan State Field Hockey team will begin its season with an exhibition game against the University of Michigan on Saturday at 2p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich. The team has been preparing for the upcoming season with preseason practices for the past week and a half.
"Michigan is a great program to scrimmage against because we want to be competitive and face a competitive team to see where we are," said 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year, Rolf van de Kerkhof . "We want to get a reality check to see what we have to improve on before we open the season."
The 2009 team won both the Big Ten title and the Big Ten Tournament last season for the first time in school history. With the return of key players such as seniors Jantine Steinmetz, Joelle van Ierland and Angela Pagura, the squad looks to repeat their success from last year and hope to make a NCAA Tournament run.
I think we can be very pleased where we are right now. The girls did a great job over the summer preparing themselves," Van de Kerkhof said. "We had one of the largest numbers of players in summer school and many players represented Michigan State in US field hockey programs"
The team, who finished Big Ten regular season play 6-0 last season, will look to fill the voids left by 2009 All American and Big Ten offensive player of the year, Floor Rijpma, fellow 2009 All American, Jeamie Deacon, and goalie Elissa Unger.
The Spartans return with Steinmetz and junior Chantae Miller on the forward line. Steinmetz recorded 10 goals and four assists for the green and white in the previous season, including three game-winning goals against Northwestern, James Madison and Delaware. Miller finished her sophomore season with eight goals, eight assists and a shot percentage of .320.
"Jantine and Chantae are two great players that produce a lot of goals for us. Our forward line creates a great opportunities to make things happen the way we want them to happen. Right now we are work in progress but we are excited to score in 2010," said van de Kerkhof.
The midfield returns many of its players from last season including veteran seniors Pagura, Amanda Huck, and Julie Mackay, who combined for a total of eight goals and five assists in 2009. Sophomore Adelle Lever also returns as both an offensive and defensive threat after scoring four goals her freshman year and recording a defensive save. Sophomore Christie Jones and junior Kristen Henn add to the depth of the Spartan's tough midfield line.
"We have a solid midfield that will help both sides of the goal which is very important. Their level of fitness is key in creating an attack," said van de Kerkhof.
Leading the 2009 squad with four defensive saves, van Ierland is back on the Spartans' defense. Along side van Ierland are juniors Holly Sherman and Angie Lucik, who besides just defending the cage last season combined for a goal and six assists. Sophomores Corey Block and Chelsy Coil and senior Meghan Magee are also back for the Green and White. Rounding out the Spartans' defense area pair of goalkeepers: junior Abbey Huck and freshman Molly Cassidy.
Van de Kerkhof said, "This past spring Molly and Abby did a great job preparing for the season and we are now looking forward to seeing the competition for the position."
The team will also have some fresh talent this year with incoming freshmen Mallory McDonagh, Elizabeth Helffrich, Camille Lambeau, Katherine Jamieson and Sara Burnosky and senior Sabine van den Assem.
"It doesn't seem like our freshmen are freshmen, which is a credit to them and our returning players," said van de Kerkhof. "The majority of them came out for summer school so they have been training with the veterans."
Coach van de Kerkof will be entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans and his twelfth year with the field hockey program. He will be joined on the sidelines by Helen Knull (who was elevated to Associate Head Coach in the off-season) and assistant coach Molly Maloney; they are entering their fifth and third seasons, respectively. Allison Kittelberger will serve as the volunteer assistant coach along side of Jeamie Deacon who will return to the team as the student coach.
After the exhibition contest against the University of Michigan, Michigan State will open up 2010 play as the host for the Champions Invitational Tournament August 28-29 where they will welcome Central Michigan, Duke and the University of Louisville to East Lansing