Rowan, Rowan Field Hockey
(Photo credit: Nick Feldman)

Rowan Field Hockey Rising in Rankings As Regular Season Nears End

The Rowan University Field Hockey Team is enjoying another stellar season. Heading into last week's showdown against Salisbury, the Profs were undefeated at 14-0 and moved up to the number 1 rank nationally.

"It's a hard accomplishment, Middlebury held that rank since 2019 and I'm so happy the girls are getting the attention because they worked so hard for it," head coach Michelle Andre stated.

Despite dropping a close 3-2 game to Salisbury, Rowan is flourishing atop the NJAC(New Jersey Athletic Conference) and unbeaten on the road.

"One of the best field hockey games I ever coached in," Andre remarked. "Salisbury is an outstanding team, and it was a nationally watched game, and I had the feeling of a national championship. The takeaway is we didn't execute in some areas we needed to, and if that game is in November, you don't get the chance to fix anything."

"I care about where we're going to be at the end of the season. The fact that it did happen when it did, the team has learned a lot and will take those lessons into the future."

Sophomore forward Julia Patrone is leading the team in goals, while graduate student Kristiina Castagnola is second on the team behind Patrone. Senior midfielder/forward Liz Fox is the team leader in assists.

"They're noticeable when you watch us play," Andre explained. "They have different styles, but their game vision is extremely high. Julia is right on the attack, and so is Christina, and it's almost which one you want to guard."

"We have Bridget (Guinan) and Vanessa (DiDonato) and other scoring threats that can come in from anywhere. One game had five goals, and five different people scored. We're executing our set plays with Liz (Fox) and her assists because she's left back for us and inserted on corners. Her ability to be consistent on that piece of the game is tremendous for us because it allows us second-chance shots and everything that happened in the gold circle and corners."

"Bridget (Guinan) has filled every need we've needed and is a pure goal scorer. Her hand/eye coordination is amazing, and she's a complete player and wonderful to coach. She was a starter on the 2018 team for us, and ever since then and quiet leader and just phenomenal."

Senior goalie Abby Hainsworth dominated in net, posting three shutouts while registering 0.797 goals against average. Hainsworth and Guinan will represent Rowan in the 2022 Victory Sports Tours/NHFCA Division III Senior Game on November 19.

"Abby (Hainsworth) has grown into her position just like her freshman year, and she got to work under another goalkeeper that had a lot of success. You can see the pieces of the game she has taken, and I think, having last year under her belt as well. She's very mature and understands the game and job. She can recognize a mistake and won't do it again."

"I joke around the whole team can make a ton of mistakes on the way down but if Abby makes one mistake and she's had to pick up for our mistakes because a lot of things happen to get to the goal and she has done that a few games where she's made the big save. You can tell when she's made the big saves and change the course of a game."

Offensively Rowan is averaging nearly five goals per game while averaging 23 shots. Defensively the Profs have been stifling, yielding just one goal per game and seven shots.

"With fundamentals, we do a lot of shooting stuff in the preseason," Andre noted. "We play indoors and make our decisions much quicker in a smaller space and sharpen our stick skills. At practices, we will have three stations going on, conditioning, shooting, and one-time station, so they're getting a ton of reps in at a time and constantly like our game. We see pieces of the game we try to implement into what we need to practice."

Entering her seventh year as head coach of the Profs, Michelle Andre has run a very successful program, amassing a 94-28 record along with two conference titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances, and advancing to two NCAA Semifinals.

Andre on the 2022 team said, "We have a lot of experience and a strong, youthful core. Some of these younger players are contributing in a lot of ways. The other thing is leadership, not the captain, defined by different players at different times."

Last year, Rowan went 18-3, won the NJAC Championship, reached the NCAA Tournament Semifinals, and finished ranked fourth in the nation. In 2019 the Profs reached the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year.

"It feels like a dream from what happened last year after the pandemic," Andre eluded. "We didn't play for a whole year and didn't play outside competition in the spring. It was all about finishing and being where we needed to be at the end of the season. Keeping them physically and emotionally healthy, we had a rough patch initially, but we figured it out."

In 2018, Rowan notched a program record of 22 wins, won the NJAC Title, and reached the NCAA Tournament Semifinals for the fourth time in school history, and Andre was named NJAC Coach of the Year.

"I knew they had it, that was a senior group that had been with me, and we had an overseas trip before 2018 and created a lot of team bonding and things we had gone through with the right people at the right time," Andre mentioned. "Just maintaining that level of competitive success with recruiting and team dynamics it's great to watch, but it's hard work and can be exhausting, but I was grateful for the girls I had the opportunity to coach."

Andre returned to her alma mater, where she was an All-American and All-American at Rowan in two sports: field hockey and softball. She also was an assistant coach on the field hockey team.

Furthermore, Andre was an All-Region honoree as a goalkeeper on the lacrosse team and earned her bachelor's degree and a master's degree in higher education administration. In 2009 she was inducted into the Rowan-Glassboro State Athletic Hall of Fame.

"Rowan has always been proud, the late '90s and early 2000's in the NCAA, Final Fours, and winning national championships," Andre explained. "You have a very proud and competitive alumni base. It's always been my dream job, but when I first started, I never knew where my journey would take me."

"Rowan wants the best and they're about the student experience. You want to make sure people are coming into an environment where they can be successful and just look at the way Rowan is building opportunities that are affording their students right now. Sometimes people's first experience at Rowan as a potential student or in the recruiting process is an easy sell because of what they have done."

"Within the athletic department the student-athlete support is tremendous and people that have experienced or have friends on the team. We do have a big community following because it's in South Jersey and club and high school teams support also has been fantastic."

Andre coached previously at Stockton from 2009 to 2014, where the Ospreys reached the NJAC Championship in 2013 and tallied a school record of 12 wins, and Andre was named NJAC Coach of the Year.

From 2002 to 2006, Andre was the head coach at Rochester, where in her inaugural season Andre led the team to a school record 12 wins and her first winning season in 10 years.

"I'm really happy for my journey, there's been highs and lows and I have lost a lot of games with some of the programs and rebuilding them and learned a lot and the people and mentors I have met along the way. I care about the girls; I want them to be happy their experience and whether they're in a program one or four years or however it may take them to be a happy place for them. I never want them to feel that they're coming to work."

"It's hard to maintain and work, but you got to have fun doing it. You got to be able to laugh and joke, and sometimes you can't take yourself too seriously. I'm grateful and happy to be where I'm at, and I get to share my love of the program with our new generation, and it's not fake."

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