Field Hockey 2013 Season Review

 

It was a season several years in the making for the Muhlenberg field hockey team.

Erin Cummings
Cummings, who finished her career with eight goals and three assists, was named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll three straight years.
When the Mules came back from a two-goal deficit to knock off nationally ranked Ursinus in their penultimate Centennial Conference game, it did more than just clinch their first playoff berth since 2007. With its most impressive victory of the season, Muhlenberg’s latest class completed a striking turnaround from 2-14 to the postseason.

Thanks to a balanced offense that featured 13 different goal-scorers (tying a school record) and a defense that surrendered just 13 goals in conference play, the Mules posted a 6-4 record in the CC, good for a fifth-place finish and a long-awaited trip to the playoffs. Though the breakthrough season ended with an 8-10 record and a 3-1 defeat at Haverford in the first round of the CC tournament, Muhlenberg’s rise to contender was complete.

Though it took six years to come full circle, the 2013 season was a microcosm of the Mules’ resurgence. Picked to finish tied for ninth in the 11-team CC, the Mules looked destined for disappointment after a four-game September swoon dropped them to 2-6. Then it all turned around.

Muhlenberg won six of its next seven, a string of success that culminated with the wild comeback over the Bears, who went on to win the CC crown and reach the ‘Sweet 16’ of the NCAA Tournament. The only loss came to then-top-ranked Franklin & Marshall in a 2-1 thriller – and the wins came in all shapes and sizes.

Dayna Hovern
Hovern was named to the CC Academic Honor Roll as well as the Fall All-Sportsmanship Team in 2013. She finished her career with 34 points.
There were shutouts – three of them, earning junior goalie Sierra Lenker CC player of the week honors for the first time in her career. Then came the nail-biters.

Starting at Gettysburg, the Mules won three consecutive one-goal games. Against the Bullets, junior Allie Califano netted the winner with 23 seconds remaining. Then classmate Kayleigh Thies found the back of the net in double overtime against Widener, part of a string of eight consecutive games with a point for the explosive forward. And after trailing 2-0 early against Ursinus, Muhlenberg scored three times in a second-half flurry that booked its ticket to the playoffs.

The Mules picked up plenty of accolades along with the victories, the most monumental coming when Thies was named to the All-America third team by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. Thies, a unanimous selection to the All-CC first team after finishing fifth in the conference with 30 points, became the first player in program history to be named an NFHCA All-American.

Thies was also named to the All-South Region first team by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. She was the first Mule to earn all-region honors since 2009 – and the first since 2004 to make the first team.

Thies moved into sixth on the program’s all-time scoring list (73 points), set the all-time assist mark (19) and was named CC player of the week twice during her standout campaign.

Joining Thies on the All-CC squad was freshman Claudia Theriault. She started all 18 games at back en route to second-team honors, becoming the first Mule freshman since 1997 to be named to the conference all-star team, and the first ever to be named to the second team or higher.

Both on and off the field, the Mules received plenty of contributions from their four senior co-captains, who helped guide the program from two wins in 2010 to five in 2011, nine in 2012, and this year’s landmark playoff berth. Forward Dayna Hovern tied for second on the team with four goals, giving her 15 for her career. Mariah Alston tallied two of her three career goals in back-to-back games while also adding two assists and a physical presence in the midfield, and Erin Cummings contributed a goal in her 16 starts.

Ashley DeAngelis, meanwhile, reprised her role as the last line of defense, making six defensive saves and moving into second on the school’s all-time list with 18.

Muhlenberg will have plenty of talent coming back for the 2014 season. Junior Christine Germaske had four goals and two assists while starting all 18 games, and classmates Lauren Jordan (three goals), Meghan Gill (two goals, two assists) and Samantha Swire (goal, three assists) helped out on offense. Fellow juniors Califano and Ray Gallagher started every game at back, and Lenker had a remarkable .838 save percentage in CC play in her first season as a starter.

Freshman Emily Boyle, who made six starts, figures to be a key contributor next year after recording three goals in her first season, including one in the playoff game. Classmate Rachel Strow, meanwhile, started five games, scoring two goals and adding an assist, numbers matched by sophomore Bridget McNally.