Aug 29, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State field hockey team heads west for a set of three games, taking on California, Pacific and Stanford. The Spartans kick off the weekend on Friday when they take on California at 10 p.m. eastern. Michigan State plays again on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. eastern against Pacific before wrapping up the road trip on Monday against Stanford. All games will take place on the campus of Stanford University.
MSU got an unofficial start to the 2013 season with a 2-1 victory in its exhibition match against in-state rival Michigan last Saturday. Senior captain Kristen Henn buried the game-winning goal with just under four minutes remaining in the game to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. MSU rallied from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to post two second-half markers for the win. Adelle Lever, Katherine Jamieson and Jenni Smith all tallied assists in the game.
2012 All-Big Ten selections Abby Barker and Becky Stiles are coming off of sensational sophomore seasons and have been tabbed as "players to watch" within the Big Ten along with teammate Molly Cassidy. Barker tallied an 18-3-39 scoring line last season, ranking fourth in the conference in goals and fifth in points. Cassidy, the Spartans' top goalkeeper for the past three seasons, led the Big Ten in saves with 128 while posting a 1.71 GAA to go along with her .785 save percentage.
Senior midfielder Kristen Henn was announced as the team captain by head coach Helen Knull. Henn returns to the lineup having played 65 games in the Green and White and looks to be the anchor of the Spartan lineup.
The Michigan State roster features 11 freshman, three sophomores, seven juniors, and five seniors.
Weekend Scouting Report
California is coming off of an 8-12 season and return eight starters from last year's team. Junior forward Lara Kruggel returns after leading the NorPac in both points and goals, tallying an 18-8-44 scoring line. Kruggel was a First Team All-Region selection and named the NorPac's West Offensive Player of the Year. Senior midfielder Shannon Elmitt was an All-Conference and Second Team All-Region selection and led the team in assists with nine. Junior goalkeeper Courtney Hendrickson is Cal's leading returner in net. She split time last season, tallying 45 saves to go along with her 1.78 GAA and .726 save percentage. Michigan State is 3-3-1 in the all-time series against the Bears.
The Tigers went 5-13 last year including a 1-5 record in NorPac play. Pacific looks to kick off a new era of field hockey this weekend with its game against Michigan State being the first regular-season game under new head coach Andy Smith. Paige Counsman and Melissa Maultsby, the Tigers leading goal scorers last season, return for their senior seasons and will head the Tigers' offense. The two combined for 14 goals, seven assists and 35 points last season. The back line looks to be young to start the season, after Pacific lost both the top goalkeeper and top defensemen from the 2012 campaign.
Stanford is coming off of an impressive 2012 campaign in which it went 16-7, including a 6-0 conference record en route to capturing its fifth NorPac Championship in six years. The Cardinal lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but it was their fourth straight NCAA bid. Head coach Tara Danielson was selected as the Co-Coach of the Year in the NorPac. The Spartans own a 7-3 record all-time against Stanford, and won 3-2 the last time they played in Palo Alto. Third Team All-American Kelsey Harbin returns for her junior season and will anchor the Cardinal defense. Harbin was the NorPac's West Defensive Player of the Year along with being a First Team All-Region Team selection. Hope Burke is the top returning offensive threat for the Cardinal. She tallied nine goals and nine assists last season, earning her a Second Team All-Region selection. Dulcie Davies started every game in net last season for Stanford. The freshman owned a 1.54 GAA and .679 save percentage to go along with her six shutouts on the season.
The Year Ahead
MSU will face eight NCAA tournament teams in its 19-game schedule, including reigning national champion Princeton and national semi-finalist Syracuse. In addition, three conference champions are on the docket for the Spartans during non-conference play: Miami (MAC), Old Dominion (CAA) and Stanford (NorthPac). MSU's first home game of the season will be September 6th against Syracuse as part of the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational.
The Spartan Staff
Helen Knull enters her third season as the head coach of Michigan State field hockey. Knull spent five seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at MSU from 2006-2010 and holds a 91-57 record while on staff for the Spartans. Knull was a four-year starter, two-year captain and a two-time All-American at Kent State, leading the Golden Flashes to the NCAA Tournament four straight years from 1999-2002. In 2002, Knull was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. She was inducted into the Kent State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Knull went on to be an assistant coach at her alma mater for two years and an associate head coach for a year before coming to Michigan State. As a coach at Kent State, Knull helped lead her alma mater to two MAC Championships in three years.
Molly Maloney enters her sixth season as an assistant coach for the Michigan State field hockey program. This offseason she was promoted to the program's top assistant position. Maloney joined the Spartans beginning in 2008, and Michigan State holds a record of 67-39, including three NCAA tournament appearances, in her tenure.
Jennifer Sciulli joins the Spartan field hockey staff for the 2013 campaign. She served as a student assistant coach at Ohio State in the fall of 2012 before graduating in December with a degree in Speech and Hearing sciences. Sciulli was a four-year varsity starter for the Ohio State field hockey team (2008-2011) where she was a First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection her senior year.
USA Field Hockey
Allie Ahern, Becky Stiles and Abby Barker were among the top field hockey players in the country competing at the USA Field Hockey U-21 National Championships this June. Stiles and Barker competed at the US Field Hockey National Championships in late May, vying for a spot on the U-21 team. Stiles competed for Team New Jersey, and Barker for the Midwest/California Squad.
The Spartans next set of games will be part of the Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational. All games will take place on Michigan State's campus at Ralph Young Field on Friday, September 6th and Sunday, September 8th. MSU takes on Syracuse on Friday at 6:15 p.m. and Monmouth on Sunday at 11 a.m.