Last year’s season brought excitement, thrilling wins, and national spotlight to the girls’ field hockey team. This season, the Mules entered the year ranked #16 in the country for Division III field hockey. However, the girls have been off to a slow start, dropping six of their first seven games. All seven have been tightly contested matchups, but so far the squad has been struggling to reproduce the offensive magic of last season, with four of their losses coming via shutout, and scoring only six goals in all competitions.
While the Mules attack has been subdued, their defensive efforts have kept them in every game so far.
Though they have six losses in seven games, five of them have been decided by one goal, including losses to conference rivals Haverford and Dickinson. In addition, the team’s competition has been fierce, with the six teams they have suffered losses against currently holding a combined record of 30-10. “Our defense has been tremendous all year. They’ve kept us in games and given us the chance to win every night. But as good as they’ve been at keeping balls out of the cage, we want to get our offense going and give her some goal support,” sophomore forward Gianna Missano said.
Despite the lack of offensive production, the Mules’ defensive unit has been superb through the first seven games. A big reason for their success despite the team’s losing record has been goaltender and captain Emma Rosenthal ‘18. While the Mules have only scored six goals in seven games, she has only given up eleven. Her stellar play has kept all of the girls’ games competitive, and given them every chance to win. Against Franklin and Marshall, she set a career high with 19 saves. In addition, the girls have relied on their two captain defensemen, Alyssa Scott ’18 and Laura Holdman ‘18. The trio make up the backbone of the team’s defense, and all three are captains this season. “Emma, Alyssa and Laura have been rock solid as a defensive unit this year. They have done a great job of keeping us in every game,” coach Megan Eddinger said.
In the midst of what is now her senior season, Rosenthal has had a stellar career so far here at Muhlenberg. Last year she tied for the Centennial Conference lead in shutouts, posting 11 of them, a Muhlenberg school record. She also set school records for games and minutes played for a goalie, as well as games started. Rosenthal entered the 2017 season ranked eighth among active Division III goaltenders in career goals-against average, as well as being named to the All-Centennial Conference team in both 2016 and 2015. Last season, her goals-against average was a 0.97 on the year, which was vital to the team’s sparkling 18-3 regular season record.
Another obstacle facing the girls this year is their youth. The team graduated five seniors last May, with many of them being key starters last season. Several of their starters this year are first time starters, which is always a tough situation for a team in the beginning of a new season. The girls’ offense will look to light a spark over their next few games. “The biggest reason for our lack of goals is our lack of shots. We haven’t been getting nearly enough shots on goal so far this year, so that’s something we’re really working on in practice- just taking shots when they’re available. We want to start taking every opportunity to get the ball to the cage, it doesn’t have to be the perfect shot every time,” Coach Eddinger said.
The squad’s next home game comes next Wednesday, October 6 at Scotty Wood Stadium against Bryn Mawr at 7:30 pm. Then on Friday, October 4, they’ll travel down to Baltimore, Maryland for a tough Centennial Conference matchup with Johns Hopkins. The schedule will not get any easier for the girls as conference play ramps up, so the team will look to continue to lean heavily on Rosenthal and the defense, and find a way to increase their offensive numbers. Despite their 0-3 conference record thus far, they still have their eyes set on turning the season around, and trying to reach a spot in the Centennial Conference tournament.