Photo Credit: Lee Kotzen

Rowan field hockey wraps up regular season on strong note

Last week before the Rowan Profs field hockey team began play in the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) Tournament, Jersey Sporting News had an opportunity to speak with graduate student Kristiina Castagnola and sophomore forward Julia Patrone.

Rowan finished the regular season by posting a 17-1 record with an undefeated record in the NJAC at 6-0. They won the conference regular season championship and earned the number one seed in the tournament.

On "Senior Day" against Ramapo, Castagnola became Rowan's all-time leading scorer and registered a hat trick. She finished the regular season with 18 goals and nine assists and was second on the team in points with 45. Meanwhile, Patrone led the team in scoring 22 goals and 54 points while second with ten assists.

Jersey Sporting News: Can you talk about Senior Day, scoring three goals and becoming Rowan Field Hockey's all-time leading scorer?

Kristiina Castagnola: "It was awesome, and I'm so grateful for just being able to do it on a senior day with this team. I had a lot of family from out of town here and the rest of my senior class. To have people supporting me from the beginning to witness that and accomplish this."

"I think of all the goals and assists that have allowed me to reach this point and break this record. The people that allowed me to get to that point with all the assists and finish at the net and assists I could make. There have been great people that I've played with who just helped me elevate my game to such a level that I could never imagine, and it was just surreal."

Jersey Sporting News: Can you talk about the play/moment you broke the record?

Kristiina Castagnola: "The first assist I had for Morgan (Mulvey) when she scored the goal. I was so focused on the score along with another senior, and such a magical moment and sick play. I ripped a shot from the top of the circle, and it went into the air, and Morgan redirected it from midair into the cage. It was not until the end of the first quarter the announcer announced it to the people in the stands, and I said, 'Oh my goodness'."

Jersey Sporting News: This senior class consisting of you, Melissa Donaldson, Liz Foz, Bridget Guinan, Abby Hainsworth, Alyssa Magliaro, Morgan Mulvey, and Rachel Stone is on a tremendous run with a 72-10 record in four years, two NJAC titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances and a national semifinal appearance. What have they meant to you?

Kristiina Castagnola: "First and foremost, I'm grateful to each senior in my class. We've been through many things and experienced the amazing highs with them for this program, and we have accomplished it. We want this legacy to continue and be something known as the new norm for Rowan."

Jersey Sporting News: Can you talk about playing for head coach Michelle Andre?

Kristiina Castagnola: "Playing for Michelle has been one of the highest privileges I've gotten playing field hockey. She pushes you to the point that elevates your game even the minute before you do something. Exactly knows what to do and how to motivate this team. It's year after year, and we never have to question her. Even if we don't understand what she's saying at that moment, we trust her with every ounce of her being. She trusts us, allowing us to be great field hockey players."

"Michelle is the type of coach who'll see something in the game but says you're in the game and allows us to make the call sometimes, and that's such a high honor for us to be able to do. That truly makes her one of the best coaches I've ever had."

Julia Patrone: "Not too many people can say they can love their coach and enjoy coming to practice. Even when she's having a rough day or extra hard on us, she's still the most down-to-earth person and will compromise on anything. The most important thing is that she likes to hear our opinions. Most coaches are it's my way or the highway."

Jersey Sporting News: What has been the reaction on the campus to the team's success and putting Rowan on the map statewide and nationally?

Kristiina Castagnola: "The vibe on campus has been amazing. People are noticing us and our consistent accomplishments over the past few years. We're just a small D3 school, but at the end of the day, some people only knew this once we were consistently up in the rankings."

"Other sports like us are doing great things across the board. First and foremost, Rowan is a well-known university great school and atmosphere. More people are coming here from out of state, which is incredible."

Jersey Sporting News: Julia, how special is this winning the NJAC regular season title, being number in the nation, and leading the team in scoring with 22 goals?

Julia Patrone: "It's so exciting. This is my sophomore year and it has been a crazy ride since I got here. We fortunately made it to the NCAA Final Four, and we hope to do it this year."

"Our biggest weapon is more than just relying on one to three people. There are some games when we win 9-0, and we have six or seven different goal scorers."

"We were number in the nation for the first time since 2002. That's crazy to be on this team. To be one of the top scorers on the team is even crazier. We've been working since the beginning of the postseason and want to win a national championship."

Jersey Sporting News: What does it mean to put that Rowan jersey on every time, especially at home?

Julia Patrone: "The biggest thing for me is my Mom graduated from Rowan-Glassboro at the time and she played field hockey. I transferred from Washington Township to Camden Catholic so I never got to graduate from the same high school as her and the rest of my family. I'm graduating from the same college and playing field hockey here is the most meaningful thing for me and something I can share with my Mom and it's pretty cool."