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Muhlenberg College

Monday, August 27, 2007 - page 2

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Season Preview
FIELD HOCKEY LOOKS TO CONTINUE CLIMB

Things are a little different since Kelly Shetron last played a game with the Muhlenberg field hockey team.

Shetron scored a goal in the final contest of the 2005 season, a 3-1 win against
Nikki Rhoads
Rhoads, who has started every game but two the last three years, is fifth in team history with eight career defensive saves and tied for 11th with nine assists.
Washington that wrapped up a year in which the Mules went 9-9 and tied for seventh in the Centennial Conference.

Last year, Muhlenberg improved to 12-7, finished fourth in the CC and defeated Gettysburg in the first round of the playoffs for its first postseason win in 1992. Shetron had to experience the banner year vicariously, however, as she was studying abroad in the Netherlands in a program that is offered only in the fall semester.

“Of course I was upset [about not playing], but at the same time I was really happy for my teammates,” said Shetron. Studying abroad “was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m really excited to come back and have my senior season ahead of me.”

Shetron and her teammates have every reason to be excited about the 2007 season, which opens when the Mules host a tournament this weekend. Picked fourth in the CC preseason poll after landing eighth in the same poll a year ago, Muhlenberg is looking to validate its new-found respect.

Although the Mules will field a smaller squad than usual, they make up in talent and experience what they lack in depth. Eight players who started at least one game last year return, although the defense will have a different look after the graduation of a four-year starting goalie and two other starters.

Back to lead the defense is senior Nikki Rhoads, a starter since her freshman year and a two-time All-CC honoree. Junior Julie deLaurentis started more than half the games the last two seasons, and junior Kristin Garbutt is poised to take on a greater role. Junior Cara Rothacker, who has played mostly midfield, could also see time in the back. Junior
Lauren Rutt
Rutt leads active Mules with 10 career assists and has also scored five goals.
Michelle Consiglio, a backup for the last two years, takes over as the starting goalie.

“She hasn’t had the opportunity to play that much, but she played great on our recent trip to Argentina,” said Shetron of Consiglio. “I think we’re going to be strong in the back.”

Heading the midfield corps is senior Lauren Rutt, a second-team All-CC selection and a force all over the field. Junior Alyssa Sheldon and sophomore Tara Cohn also return to starting roles. Sheldon assisted on the decisive goal in the Mules’ playoff win, and Cohn tied for the team lead with five assists as a freshman.

Shetron, who scored 13 points as a sophomore fits, nicely into a forward line that was responsible for Muhlenberg scoring 44 goals in 2006 – a 14-goal improvement from 2005 and the team’s most potent output in 17 years.

Senior Jillian Duffy led the Mules and ranked third in the CC with 12 goals, Nicki Notarianni scored eight goals, the most by a ‘Berg freshman since 1991, and Kristen Sabia netted two goals off the bench as a freshman. Sophomore Jaclyn Leone is improved and could be a factor at several spots on the field.

“I expect scoring to be a strength again,” Shetron commented. “We have a really strong forward line and good connections. The midfield and defense are great at getting the ball up the field.”

Muhlenberg enters the season as prepared as ever, thanks to the trip to Argentina, which served as a kind of pre-preseason. While there, the Mules practiced every day with a pair of Argentine coaches, picking up tips on improving their game. “We’re psyched to put into practice everything we learned,” said Shetron.

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