The Rutgers field hockey team opens the season with two home games on the opening weekend, as it will host Bucknell on Friday (Aug. 29) and then welcome Sacred Heart Sunday (Aug. 31).
This year is the inaugural season for Rutgers as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Scarlet Knights had previously played in the BIG EAST since the 1995 season, after playing the sport in the Atlantic 10 from 1988-1995.
After going 9-9 last season, Rutgers returns its four top scorers and six starters. Senior Sophie Wright (Devizes, United Kingdom) (9 G, 1 A) led RU in scoring last year. Forwards Rachel Yaney (Bridgewater, N.J.) (5 G) and Katie Champion (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) (4 G, 1 A) also return to provide offensive firepower. Defender Sofia Walia (Surrey, British Columbia) (3 G, 3 A) was fourth on the team in points last year, as she earned Second Team All-BIG EAST accolades. Wright and Walia were also both named to the Longstreth/NFHCA Division I All-Mid-Atlantic Region Second Team.
Rutgers three captains (Sophie Wright, Jen Staab, and Alyssa Bull) were all recognized as Preseason Players to Watch by the Big Ten Conference. Wright had19 points last year and was recognized as Second Team All-BIG EAST. Staab has been a fixture for RU, starting 53 of 55 games in her career. Bull, the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 2012, redshirted the 2013 season.
Alyssa Bull (Oakville, Ontario) had a breakout season in 2012, scoring five goals and a team-high seven assists in her freshman campaign. However, an injury suffered in the 2013 season opener caused her to take a medical redshirt. She returns healthy for the 2014 campaign, and will be a key for RU this season.
With the graduation of goalkeeper Sarah Stuby, sophomore Shevaun Hayes (Melbourne, Australia) will assume the starting role. Hayes had a strong freshman year, with a 4-3 record and 2.14 goals against average in 12 games.
Rutgers will welcome eight newcomers for the 2014 campaign, including six freshmen and two transfers. Among the new players is transfer Jasmine Cole (Montclair, N.J.), who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2013 at Penn after leading the team with 18 goals and 39 points.
- The Bison come into the season following an 8-10 record in 2013.
- Bucknell’s leading returning scorer is Abby Watson (6 G, 3 A in 2013).
- Senior midfielder Kelsey Mucelli and senior defender Liz Wills were named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team. The team was predicted to finish third in the league.
- Bucknell is led by head coach Jeremy Cook, who enters his seventh season.
- Rutgers is 5-1 all-time against the Bison. RU will open this year with the team they closed last season’s schedule with, as the Bison defeated the Scarlet Knights 5-2 in the 2013 finale. Before that, RU had won three straight games vs. Bucknell (84, 85, 10, 11, 12).
Scouting Sacred Heart
- The Pioneers posted a 4-13 record in 2013.
- Despite scoring just 14 goals in 17 games last season, Sacred Heart returns its two leading scorers, Liz Bergman (5 G) and Christine Mace (3 G, 2 A).
- Goalkeeper Mary Altepeter started every game last season, posting a 2.86 GAA.
- Katie Kloeckener is in her third season at the helm for the Pioneers.
- Rutgers has won both all-time matchups with Sacred Heart. The last matchup was a 5-0 Scarlet Knights win in 2012, preceded by a 4-3 RU win in 2009.