Field Hockey Earns National Votes, Road Win

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When Kristen Dornenburg went into the Muhlenberg field hockey locker room after class to prepare for the game against King’s, she got a nice surprise – the news that the Mules were receiving votes in the Division III national poll.

Muhlenberg received 73 votes in the poll released today, just three places away from cracking the top 20. The national recognition came on the heels of a 2-1 start that included a 2-0 loss to Elizabethtown (18th in the poll) and a 2-1 win against Montclair State (10th in the poll).

It’s the first time the Mules have appeared in the national poll since they were ranked No. 7 in 2003. And for Dornenburg and the other six holdovers from the 2010 team that won only two games all season, it was especially gratifying.

Samantha Swire
Swire has scored the Mules’ last three goals.
“We’ve been trying not to talk about the past too much and only look forward,” said Dornenburg. “It’s such a big change! We are all so excited [about the ranking].”

The Mules then had to go out and prove themselves worthy of the votes. And they did just that, improving to 3-1 with a 2-1 win at King’s.

Sophomore Samantha Swire scored both goals, one in each half, on penalty corners. Dornenburg, the reigning Centennial Conference player of the week, recorded six saves, one on penalty stroke early in the game.

“I kind of laughed when it was called because this is the most penalty strokes I’ve ever faced, only four games into the season,” said Dornenburg, who has been called on to stop a stroke in three straight games. “Luckily I don’t think that was the best stroke [the King’s player] ever took. The ball was at my feet and I was close to the line. I had to scoot myself forward so it wouldn’t go in.”

King’s (2-2) did get one in early in the second half to tie the game at 1-1, but despite facing 10 penalty corners the rest of the way, the defense held firm. Muhlenberg has allowed only five goals in four games, less than half as many as it allowed in the first four games last season.

“We’re really clicking with each other on defense,” said Dornenburg. “We’re very strong in the circle and playing with confidence.”

The Mules also have the confidence to win close games. All three of their wins have come by a 2-1 final, including one in overtime and this one in which they had to defend their one-goal lead for the last 30 minutes.

“I feel like a lot of games last year were close but we didn’t come out on the right end,” said Dornenburg. “We’re just pushing so much harder, and that’s been the difference. We want it so much more this year.”
Click here for the national poll.
Click here for box score.
Click here for complete stats.