Preview: Field Hockey Hopes to Make Some Noise

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There’s been a lot of screaming and yelling at Muhlenberg field hockey practices this preseason. Some of it is the usual exhortation of coaches to their players. Some of it is the Mules working on communicating better when they’re on the field.

And some of it is so anyone can be heard over the heavy machinery that’s being used to construct a new set of bleachers on the visitor side of Scotty Wood Stadium.

Devon Barber
Barber scored goals in back-to-back wins against Widener and Dickinson last year.
While the mixers and cranes do their work outside the fence, there’s a construction project going on inside too, as Muhlenberg is trying to build a playoff-quality team.

The Mules, who open this weekend with home games against Scranton (Friday night) and Elizabethtown (Saturday afternoon), went 5-12 last year after winning just two games the previous season. The team played some of its best hockey toward the end of the season, dropping close games to nationally ranked Franklin & Marshall (3-1) and Ursinus (2-1) as well as Centennial Conference playoff qualifier Gettysburg (3-2).

Now the Mules want to keep moving in the right direction.

“Those close losses to top teams were definitely a confidence booster,” said Devon Barber, one of three seniors. “Hopefully [the confidence] will continue.”

The level of talent Muhlenberg has all over the field should give it plenty of confidence. Senior Kristen Dornenburg returns for her fourth year as starting goalie, just 112 saves away from becoming the program’s all-time leader. She will be backed up by sophomore Sierra Lenker.

Kristen Dornenburg
Dornenburg was third in the CC in saves per game (8.50) last year and ranks 23rd on the league’s all-time saves list.
At the other end, Kayleigh Thies is back after scoring a team-leading 11 goals, one short of the school record for freshman, in 2011. Junior Dayna Hovern (3g, 1a) and sophomore Christine Germaske (1g, 1a) also saw plenty of time at the forward spot and are dangerous in the circle.

The Mules are particularly experienced in the midfield, with Barber (4g, 1a), juniors Mariah Alston (1a) and Erin Cummings (1g, 3a) all starting the majority of games the last two seasons. Sophomore Allie Califano (1a) was a valuable part-time starter/reserve in her rookie season.

“We have a strong midfield and a good transition,” said Barber. “Sometimes we break down when we get a chance to score or save the ball, so we’ve been working more on the offensive and defensive sides.”

Muhlenberg graduated three starting backs, but junior Ashley DeAngelis and sophomore Heather Porrini (4 defensive saves) figure to step into starting roles, with senior Dana Disimile looking to earn greater playing time.

Because the team has less depth than it did last year, the players have been working on their endurance and learning to play multiple positions. They have been rotating between positions when they’re on the field, and they want to do some shuffling in the standings as well.

“The group we have has shown a lot of excitement,” commented Barber. “There’s so much energy and love for the game, that’s going to help us during the season.

“We think it’s a realistic goal to make the playoffs. We’re talented; we just have to pull it all together.”

And that would be something to scream and yell about.