The seven-by-twelve-foot structure comprised of a heavy aluminum crossbar and uprights appears small situated on the goal line of Muhlenberg College’s Frank Marino Field in Scotty Wood Stadium. It’s relative to the sport though, with players attempting to send a ball three inches in diameter into the backboard or netting. Like football, the field hockey players often have to run large lengths of the field just to make it within scoring distance.
But unlike football, there’s always someone between them and a goal.
At Muhlenberg, her name is Emma Rosenthal ‘18.
I was really able to show myself that if I worked hard I could really achieve my goals and prove that it’s not how you start, but how you finish. – Emma Rosenthal
Rosenthal’s name may sit at the bottom of Muhlenberg’s field hockey roster, mainly because of her choice of the number 68, but she is certainly not last on on the statistics sheet. The captain and three-year starter has been head coach Megan Eddinger’s go-to goaltender since Sierra Lenker ‘14 graduated. She’s spent the past three seasons breaking records and achieving personal bests, but, as Rosenthal admits, it wasn’t always that way.
“I was actually a backup goalie all throughout high school too so going from being the reserve goalie pretty much my whole life to being a three year starter is a pretty great feeling. I was really able to show myself that if I worked hard I could really achieve my goals and prove that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
Not about the start is right, as getting to where she is now was not always the easiest path. Beginning in third grade with a community field hockey league, Rosenthal quickly fell in love with the game. But it was at the next stage of her “career” that she found out she was a solid netminder.
“When I started middle school and had to try out for the team, there were a ton of girls trying out. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it, so I tried out as a goalie. I had played goalie for lacrosse, so I figured I’d give it a try and ended up really loving it. After becoming a goalie, field hockey became the first sport that I was passionate enough about to actually be excited to go to practice.”
That passion continued through high school into college. When she graduated from Central Bucks High School East and moved to Muhlenberg – and in turn graduated from reserve goalie to starter – there was no stopping Rosenthal’s journey into the record books.
Rosenthal went from playing in just two games during her freshman season to being second in the Centennial Conference and 19th in all of Division III in goals-against average, allowing one goal or fewer in 11 of 15 starts and recording five saves in 1-0 shutouts of Johns Hopkins and Montclair State.
But her breakout season in her first year as a starter was only the beginning.
The shutout records and goals against average was really a reflection of our defensive unit as a whole. – Rosenthal
Last season, Rosenthal surpassed goaltenders before her to set school records for games played, games started and minutes played as a goalie. She was again second in the Centennial Conference and improved to 14th in Division III in goals-against average. She was vital in helping the Mules set a school record of 11 shutouts with her unscored-upon streak of 264 minutes, or roughly four games. Then, when Muhlenberg made it to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament, Rosenthal allowed only one goal in 210 minutes through three games.
Though, she hesitates to take credit for the Mules’ success.
“The shutout records and goals against average was really a reflection of our defensive unit as a whole. I was super fortunate to have in the back with me Claudia Theriault ‘17, who was named all-region 3 years in a row, and also Alyssa Scott ‘18, first team all CC. During practice my entire team would challenge me by never going easy or slowing down – helping me get ready for game time. Coach Eddinger’s so supportive and I’m so appreciative to have a coach that I can go to about anything – field hockey related or not.”
Rosenthal continued, “I was extremely lucky to have Bridgette Street to work with me for three out of my four years here, and I really benefited from the extensive time spent at practice with her. After not playing a lot, we really had to work on my confidence as the leader in the back field. Goalkeeper is such a mental position that the confidence has to really be there. It’s tough going into every game knowing that if I make one mistake it’ll light up on the scoreboard, but going into games with confidence in myself and in my defensive unit was so important.”
After years of working and learning, Rosenthal was finally rewarded.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, Rosenthal will be at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. She will suit up one last time for the 2017 Victory Sports Tours/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Senior Game. The first goalie in program history named to the All Centennial Conference team more than once, Rosenthal follows in the footsteps of six Muhlenberg players selected to the Division III all-star game in the last six years – including her predecessor Sierra Lenker.
“It’s really an honor to be chose to the DIII Senior Game. I actually got a concussion towards the end of the season this year, so I was unsure that I’d ever have a chance to wear my Muhlenberg jersey again. When Coach told me that I had been selected, it was even better to know that I’d have one more chance to play the game I love.”
A selection to the all-star game is a fitting end for Rosenthal’s record-setting career. Because, like she said, it’s not how you start but how you finish.