PISCATAWAY, N.J. (August 22, 2012) – Before the Rutgers field hockey squad opens up their season this weekend, Rutgers Athletics caught up with first-year head coach Meredith Long to get the scoop on what to expect from the 2012 Scarlet Knights. RU takes the field Friday, August 24 for a 1p.m. home opener at Bauer Track and Field Complex against the Albany Great Danes. The team remains at home on Sunday, August 26 at 1p.m. to face the Boston University Terriers.
Q: What are you feelings coming into your first season as head coach of Rutgers field hockey?
Coach Long: I am excited for my first season as head coach. I am really looking forward to working with this team and coaching staff. They are a hardworking and talented group of players committed to a new brand of Rutgers Field Hockey.
Q: How do you plan to replace last year’s seniors, in particular the experience on the defensive side?
Coach Long: The team has done a tremendous job transitioning this spring. This is a group that shares the leadership piece. We have a lot of experienced players returning and I am really looking forward to seeing some of the younger players breakout this season.
Q: What are you expecting from your seniors?
Coach Long: Our seniors are a great group of players and have truly stepped up to provide leadership to the team. They have matured into positive role models and are able to openly and effectively communication with the coaching staff.
Q: Who will you be counting on in the defense?
Coach Long: Ashley Yanek (Northhampton, Pa.), Laura Rose (Washington Township, N.J.), and Sarah Stuby (Roxbury, N.J.) have done an outstanding job in our backfield last season as well as in the spring. We will look for Emily Strong (Medford, N.J.) to step in as a side back while Kaitlyn Plouse (Hummelstown, Pa.) will be making her debut after overcoming a sidelining back injury. Additionally, we expect Carley Hawkins (Harrisburg, Pa.) will compete for time in the backfield.
Q: How will the midfield benefit from the experience on the roster?
Coach Long: Our midfield is a dangerous combination of returners Carlie Rouh (Berlin, N.J.), Jenn Staab (Marmora, N.J.), Sophie Wright (Devizes, U.K.) and Lisa Patrone (Sewall, N.J.), along with incoming players Alyssa Bull (Oakville, Ontario) and Ali Stever (Ocean City, N.J.). We expect the speed of this unit to be especially threatening in counterattacking situations. The forward line will consist of returners Gia Nappi (Fairfield, N.J.), Danielle Freshnock (Middletown, N.J.), Cornelia Duffin (Moorestown, N.J.), and Chelsea Rota (Langhorne, Pa.) along with newcomers Nicole Imbriaco (Clark, N.J.) and Katie Champion (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.). We will also be really counting on Christie Lonsky (Dingmans Ferry, Pa.) this season who had to sit last year due to transfer rules.
Q: What are you expecting from the incoming freshmen?
Coach Long: They are a dynamic group and will make an immediate impact. Nicole and Katie will look to earn time on the forward line. Katie is a tremendous athlete with dangerous speed. Nicole has great hands and is a natural goal scorer. Alyssa Bull and Ali Stever will play in the midfield. Alyssa is a brilliant attacking midfielder with an amazing ability to create scoring opportunities. Stever is a steady and poised defensive midfielder who will fit perfectly into our structure and style. I am excited to see her play with former High School teammate Jenn Staab again. They play very well off of one another. Carley Hawkins will compete for time in the backfield. I love the simplicity of Carley’s style. She has great awareness and will fit nicely into our defensive unit.
Q: What was the off-season like for you and the team?
Coach Long: We had a very successful spring season. We began in February with our first-ever indoor field hockey segment. While indoor, we really focused on skill development and execution under pressure, which transitioned nicely to the turf. We had two players, Laura Rose and Christie Lonsky, who were selected to the USA Women’s Indoor National Team, which was a huge accomplishment for these young women. Outdoor we focused primarily on our playing structure and roles within that structure.
We spent a lot of time on goal scoring and finishing skills as well as attack penalty corner execution. Lisa Patrone, Gia Nappi, and Christie Lonsky also trained with the New Jersey High Performance Squad. Haley Exner and myself assisted in coaching the squad. Lisa was selected and competed with the Championship squad, winning their fourth consecutive National Championship. It was a great opportunity for Lisa to compete at this level, playing with and against the USA Olympic Squad members going to London. The players have been working hard this summer, and they are looking forward to resuming training as a team in August.
Q: How will this season be different from previous seasons?
Coach Long: You are going to see Rutgers play a new style of hockey. The coaching staff and players really believe in what we are trying to accomplish, which makes for a competitive atmosphere!