After picking up nine wins during the 2017-2018 season, Rutgers Field Hockey is set to start strong, and build on their momentum and both last season’s success and heartbreak. The team has gone 9-9 overall the past two seasons, earning one more conference win last year, and will continue to move forward. Most of the team remains intact with the graduation of just two former team captains in Haley Meade and Simrin Dhillon.
Seniors Linde van Schaik and Nikki Profita were named captain and vice captain, respectively. This is the second straight season that van Schaik will serve as captain; she was the team’s second-leading scorer last season with 19 points (seven goals, five assists) and she played in every single game. She was also named to both the Second Team All-Big Ten and First Team All Mid-Atlantic Region, and sits near the Top Ten all-time at Rutgers in goals (17), assists (11), and points (45).
Profita, a New Jersey native, also played in every game last season, picking up two goals and three assists. Their leadership will be a major asset going forward.
Earlier last week, van Schaik was named a Preseason Big Ten Player to Watch in addition to goalkeeper Gianna Glatz and midfielder Daphne Groothius. Glatz had an outstanding freshman season, posting a 9-9 record, a 2.23 goals against average, a .664 save percentage, and three shutouts; she will be a major difference-maker for the team this season.
Glatz was also selected to the USA Field Hockey U-21 Junior National Training Camp in June after participating in the Young Women’s National Championship alongside fellow NJ natives Austyn Cuneo, Alanna Gollotto, and Kassidy Shetler. All four players are returning this season.
Groothius, also a sophomore, was the team’s leading scorer last season, tallying seven goals and eight assists for 22 points, and also led the team in shots (48), shots on goal (29), and game-winning goals (four), including the game-winner against #12 Stanford in a 2-1 overtime win. She earned Second Ten All-Big Ten and Second Team Mid-Atlantic Region recognitions.
In addition to the returning players, the team will feature seven new faces. Midfielders Noelle Bessette, Devon Colquhoun, and Olivia Drea, and defender Abby Regn all hail from the Garden State. All four players have a host of accolades and have had exceptional field hockey careers prior to Rutgers. They will be players to watch this upcoming season.
Rutgers will also feature three more new midfielders. Clayre Smith transferred from Penn State this past spring during her freshman season and played in eight games for them. Tayla Hemera-Parkes is a member of the New Zealand national team junior program and won a national championship in 2016. Milena Redlingshoefer has represented Germany at both the U16 and U18 levels, and has been a national champion multiple times.
With a good combination of new faces and veterans, the diversity and versatility is there for the team to play around and figure out what works best. They have a healthy balance of experience, speed, and talent to take the next step.
Last season, the team picked up nine wins and peaked at #18 in the national rankings. It also had its most ever Big Ten Wins (three) and ranked wins (three). They won four straight games at home to start the season, including a 5-1 win over #23 Old Dominion, and used that momentum going forward. They did pick up B1G wins against Indiana, #19 Iowa, and Michigan State. They fell 6-0 to #12 Maryland to close the regular season and lost 4-3 to #10 Northwestern in devastating fashion in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
This season, Rutgers Field Hockey has a scheduled 17-game slate and they begin the season with five straight home games. Overall, they play 11 at home and six on the road, and must take advantage of those home contests. They play a total of eight conference games, split home and away, including a three-game home slate against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State at the end of September. The Ohio State contest will be broadcast via Big Ten Network.
If they can get off to a strong start against non-conference teams like they have in the past, pick up a few gutsy conference wins, avoid any major injuries, and get contributions from players across the board, they are poised to take the next step (which should be a Big Ten Tournament run).
Rutgers Field Hockey opens the season this Sunday, August 26 against Richmond in their home opener. The game is scheduled for 1PM at the Bauer Track and Field Complex in Piscataway. The first 50 fans in attendance will receive the official field hockey season t-shirt.