One word sums up the 2009 season for the Muhlenberg field hockey team: exciting.
The Mules played four overtime contests, and 11 of their 17 games were decided by one goal. Four of those games - all Muhlenberg wins - were decided by goals with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.
Unfortunately for the Mules, the season was as up-and-down as many of those contests.
Though they scored one great upset, a 1-0 double-overtime victory at Johns Hopkins, they could not pull off another in the final game of the season when they needed it most, as the Mules lost 1-0 to No. 13 Gettysburg to narrowly miss out on a berth in the Centennial Conference playoffs for the second straight year. Despite tying with four other squads for fifth place in the CC at 5-5, the Mules, who finished 9-8 for the season, were behind in tiebreakers.
Cohn recorded just one goal in her first two years, then exploded for 21 the last two seasons. She was named All-CC both years.
Muhlenberg lost a tough overtime game against William Paterson to open the season, but recovered with a 3-2 double-overtime defeat of Susquehanna to open the Mule Classic. Senior Nicki Notarianni dove to the ground to knock in the game winner, avenging a loss in penalty strokes to the Crusaders the year before.
The Mules won five of their next six, with the only loss coming in overtime to Montclair State. It was during this stretch that Muhlenberg had some of its most dramatic finishes.
The Mules scored game-winning goals with 3:12 remaining in regulation (1-0 over Elizabethtown), 1:11 to play (1-0 at Washington), 2:06 remaining (2-1 vs. Widener) and 53 seconds to go (2-1 at Haverford). Though the Mules didn't need a late goal to defeat Moravian 2-0, they did need two second-half defensive saves to hold on for another exciting win.
The four-game winning streak was snapped by a Homecoming loss to Dickinson, which started a three-game losing streak. But Muhlenberg recovered with a 4-1 victory over Swarthmore and then its biggest win of the season, a 1-0 double-overtime defeat of No. 10 Johns Hopkins.
Despite wearing a brace on her injured leg, Sabia started the final game of her career before exiting at the first whistle.
But the goodwill from the defeat of the Blue Jays did not last, as the Mules dropped three of their final four contests, keeping a celebrated senior class from returning to the playoffs in its final season.
That class was led by midfielder Tara Cohn, who was named first-team All-CC and second-team all-region. Cohn led the Mules with nine goals and tied for the team lead with three assists. She finished eighth in the CC in points per game and sixth in goals per game. She graduates sixth in Muhlenberg history in career assists (13) and 13th in points (57).
Notarianni earned All-CC honorable mention for the second time in her career. Her seven goals were second on the Mules, as were her 16 points. She led Muhlenberg and tied for fourth in the CC with four game-winning goals. She finishes her career sixth in Muhlenberg history in career points (72) and goals (32).
Notarianni started all 73 of the Mules' games during her accomplished four-year career.
The third senior, forward Kristen Sabia, started the Mules' first 10 games before suffering a season-ending injury. Sabia's lone point on the season was the assist on the game-winning goal with 53 seconds remaining against Haverford.
Junior Jess Kasza netted five goals, third on the team, from the midfield. Four of Kasza's five goals came off of penalty corners, and three were game winners - all in CC play.
Juniors Chessie Martinez and Amanda DiMarco were the other two starters in the midfield. Martinez tallied one goal, while DiMarco made two defensive saves. Sophomore Renee Norton and freshman Jaclyn Todisco were key contributors in the midfield coming off the bench.
Sophomore Jillian Katz made 13 starts at forward. Sophomore Courtney DeAngelis and freshmen Nicole Fiorentino and Kiara Santana were key reserves up front.
The back three consisted of a trio of sophomores: Brittany DeAngelis, Shelby Smith and Cait Teegarden. DeAngelis led the Mules with five defensive saves, the second-highest total in the CC (and the best in CC games). Teegarden contributed three defensive saves and Smith one to a defense that ranked 33rd in Division III in goals-against average (1.46). Freshman Tiffany Kreider also saw time in the back.
Freshman Kristen Dornenburg played every minute in goal. She posted a 1.46 goals-against average, third in the CC, and .810 save percentage, the top mark in the conference. She recorded five shutouts, tied for second among CC goalies.