Sept. 12, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State field hockey team heads east for a pair of weekend road games with No. 3 Princeton and Delaware. The Spartans take on the defending national champion Tigers on Friday, September 13th at 6 p.m. and Delaware on Sunday at noon. Michigan State enters the weekend with a 2-3 record.
MSU is coming off of a weekend in which it hosted the Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational. On Friday, MSU fell to No. 5 Syracuse 4-0. The Spartans bounced back and earned a 4-2 win on Sunday over Monmouth. Michigan State jumped out to a one goal lead on Adelle Lever's first goal of the season, but went into the half trailing 2-1. MSU used three second-half goals to overcome the deficit and get its second win of the season. Four different Spartans scored a goal in the game, and the spark was provided by seniors Katherine Jamieson and Adelle Lever, who each recorded a goal and an assist in the game.
Spreading the Wealth
Of the 14 goals that Michigan State has scored so far this season, 10 of those 14 have come from different players. Allie Ahern leads the attack with four goals on the season and junior forward Heather Howie has two, while eight other Spartans have tallied one goal. There are 14 players who have tallied a point, registering at least one goal or assist. This offensive balance has led to Michigan State ranking second in the Big Ten in goals (14) and third in assists (9).
Allie Ahern recorded a hat trick in the 7-0 win over Pacific and knocked in her fourth goal of the season on Sunday against Monmouth. Her four goals on the season are tied for the second most in the Big Ten and she is tied for fourth in the conference in points with eight.
Freshman Adrea Donaldson, Megan Fenton, Kristen Matuala and Shelby Supica have all picked up their first career goals in the Green and White. On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made 16 saves this season, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten.
Weekend Scouting Report
The Princeton Tigers entered the 2013 season ranked as the number three team by the Penn Monto / NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll after a season in which they won the program's first-ever national championship. The Tigers return eight starters from last year's title winner and are coached by Kristen Holmes-Winn, who has led Princeton to nine Ivy League titles and eight NCAA Tournament appearances. Heading into Friday's game, the Tigers are 2-0 on the season and have won 16 straight games going back to last season. Sophomore Teresa Benvenuti owns a 2-1-5 scoring line and leads the team in goals and points through two games. Christiana Maida has allowed just one goal in 105 minutes of action and holds a .875 save percentage. These two teams have met only once before on the field hockey pitch - MSU defeated Princeton 2-1 on Sept. 29, 2002 in East Lansing, Mich.
The Blue Hens enter the weekend with a 3-1 record and will take on No. 11 Temple on Friday before welcoming Michigan State. Sophomore midfielder Michaela Patzner has already tallied four goals and two assists on the season and leads an offense that has outscored opponents 11-5 in the team's three wins. Freshman Esmee Peet scored two goals over Central Michigan and was named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week. Sarah Scher has played every minute in net for the Blue Hens, turning away 17 shots and owning a 1.73 GAA and .708 save percentage.
The Blue Hens are coached by former Michigan State head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. He spent 12 years as a coach in East Lansing including five as a head coach of the Spartans. In his seasons as the head coach, van de Kerkhof compiled a 74-36-0 overall record, which included a 15-6-0 mark and NCAA Tournament bids in each of the last four seasons. In 2009, his Spartans became the first team to win both the Big Ten title outright and also the Big Ten Tournament. Van de Kerkhof was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year that season, and that team finished the season with a record of 18-4 and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Relying on Experience
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. She is off to a hot start in the 2013 campaign, as she netted the game-winning goal in the team's exhibition match against Michigan and picked up a goal and two assists in the first three games. The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, 3 sophomores), which means Michigan State will lean heavily on experience and team leadership. There are 10 juniors and seniors on the roster that have started in all five games to start the season, and the five leading scorers on the team are all upperclassmen.
B1G Players to Watch
Playing the Best
MSU will face eight teams from last year's NCAA tournament in its 19-game schedule, including reigning national champion Princeton. The Spartans have already played 10th ranked Stanford and last year's national semi-finalist Syracuse, who currently sits at sixth in the national poll. Next weekend, the Spartans travel to Lexington Kentucky where they will take on 15th ranked Old Dominion and Northeastern, who ranked 15th in the preseason poll. The slate doesn't get any easier for the Spartans once they enter conference play as Big Ten opponents Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State all currently sit in the top 25.
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 past 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.
Up Next Michigan State will play a pair of games in Lexington, Kentucky next weekend where they will take on 15th ranked Old Dominion and Northeastern. Friday's game against Northeastern will take place at 4 p.m. and Sunday's match up with Old Dominion at 11 a.m.