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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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Turf update

Season Preview
Veteran Defense to lead field hockey

On many teams, the seniors sit in the back of the bus, leaving the younger players to sit near the coaches at the front. But on the 2008 Muhlenberg field hockey team, the seniors will be at the back of the field.

Julie deLaurentis
DeLaurentis ranked seventh in the CC with her five defensive saves.
The Mules, who open by hosting a tournament this weekend, have four seniors on the roster, and all four play in the back. If defense and experience are two key ingredients to success, as they usually are, Muhlenberg should be primed for a good season.

“It helps a lot,” said Julie deLaurentis, one of the four, on having such a senior-laden defense. “We’re used to playing with one another. We all communicate well and we’re a strong unit.”

Defense definitely was a strength last year, when the Mules went 12-7 and qualified for the Centennial Conference playoffs for the second straight season. They had the third-lowest goals-against average in the CC. Take away an 8-0 loss to Ursinus, and Muhlenberg allowed barely more than a goal per game.

Michelle Consiglio led the CC with a .762 save percentage in her first year as a starting goalie. DeLaurentis made five defensive saves, and Kristin Garbutt added three. The fourth senior, Cara Rothacker, played mostly in the midfield her first three years.

Cara Rothacker
Rothacker has played in 48 games over the last three years, starting 18.
The veteran defense will support a squad that is less experienced at other positions, particularly in the midfield. Up front, the Mules return a solid scoring tandem in juniors Nicki Notarianni (11 goals, All-CC honorable mention) and Kristen Sabia (8 goals). Sophomore Chessie Martinez scored a pair of goals in a reserve role.

In the midfield, Muhlenberg returns only two letterwinners, junior Tara Cohn and sophomore Jess Kasza. Cohn leads all active Mules in career assists (6), while Kasza finished strong last year and gives the team strength on the left side.

After that, the team will turn to younger players, including a strong freshman class. “We have a lot of strong forwards, and a lot of underclassmen stepping up in the midfield,” said deLaurentis. “We have a lot to work on, but we’re doing some good things.”

Two returning players who should play a bigger role this year are sophomores Cristina Steglitz at forward and Amanda DiMarco in the midfield. Both showed great improvement in the spring and preseason.

With a deep roster of 19 players, Muhlenberg should be equipped to handle any adversity thrown its way. The team has already laughed off its first taste of adversity, shuttling to practice on three area fields due to delays in the resurfacing of Frank Marino Field.

“We deal with it by being positive and open-minded,” said deLaurentis. “We make jokes about it and have fun on the bus. We love our bus driver and even invited him to our team dinner.

“It obviously is not the best situation for us, but it’s going to help. It’s added an extra hour onto every practice, so we’ve gotten to know the freshmen a lot better. We definitely have bonded.”

The Mules will play this weekend’s tournament at Whitehall High School, but the field is expected to be ready in time for the September 5 game vs. Hartwick.

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