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SEASON PREVIEW - No. 6 Penn St vs No. 8 ODU on Fri.

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: August 28, 2013
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NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion University field hockey team will compete for the first time in the 2013 regular season this Friday, August 30, when they will host Penn State at L.R. Hill Sports Complex at 5 p.m.

New Conference: The BIG EAST
This will be a groundbreaking year for field hockey at Old Dominion, as the program enters a new conference with a new head coach. ODU’s field hockey program officially joined the BIG EAST Conference as an associate member on July 1, 2013.

Head coach Andrew Griffiths remarked, “The Big East has historically been a strong field hockey conference and has sent teams to the NCAA final four a number of times in recent years. We hope and expect this to continue and we are also looking forward to some great new conference rivalries.”

Joining the BIG EAST as an associate member in 2013 along with Louisville, Temple, Connecticut and Rutgers, the Lady Monarchs will play a seven-game conference schedule that also features Villanova, Providence and Georgetown in addition to their challenging non-conference slate. Their non-conference schedule includes the likes of Penn State on Friday, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke and Michigan State.

New Head Coach: Andrew Griffiths
Griffiths was the head field hockey coach at Lafayette College the past six years and led them to a 17-3 season last fall and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

“It has been an exciting, interesting and challenging time over the past seven months since I arrived,” said Griffiths. “I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to work here with a strong program, incredible facilities and great support in many ways from the school. The players have been engaged and I am constantly impressed with their work ethic and their approach to what they do. The players have a lot of pride in what the team and the school represents, which makes my coaching job much easier.”

History/2012 Season Recap
Old Dominion University had competed as a field hockey member of the CAA since 1992, winning the regular season title 14 times and tournament title 15 times. ODU is coming off a 15-6 campaign a year ago and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals after going 7-0 and capturing their record 15th CAA title in their last year in the league. The Lady Monarchs have been ranked in the Top-10 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll for 22 consecutive weeks dating back to the 2011 season. 

The 2013 Lady Monarchs
“The team this year is smaller in number (only 18) and strikes me as a unified group. They are eager to learn, competitive, very fit and are working together really well. There are also some great personalities on the team, some real characters. I think this is a great thing; they work hard but also enjoy themselves,” Griffiths said.

Key Returnees
The Lady Monarchs return five starters from last year’s conference championship squad. Senior Christy Longacre was named the 2012 CAA Conference Defender of the Year and looks to anchor ODU’s defense this season. Kelsey Smither will join Longacre on the backline. In July, Smither was named to the United States Under-21 Junior World Cup Team, which begins pool play in late July. Junior Rosario Villagra led last year’s team in goals with 13 and looks to lead this year’s Lady Monarch attack. Danielle Clutter returns for her redshirt senior campaign, along with sophomore Emily Harting, both were starters a season ago.

The Lady Monarchs will also be leaning on key returnees such as redshirt juniors Katy Fuhrman, Nicole Goff and Cassandra Wagner; as well as sophomores Sarah Breen, Teisha King, Caitlin Walsh and goalkeeper Megan Hept.

Key Losses
Old Dominion has some big shoes to fill as they lost four starters due to graduation in defender Julie Hodge, attacker Kimberley Oakes, goalkeeper Marla Petriello and All Conference forward Martje van Rijswijk. After last season. 

Key Newcomers
Catalina Barahona (F/M – Santiago, Chile); Megan Byas (M/D – Driffield, England); Emily Corbett (GK – Ontario, Canada); Casey Dolan (F – Forty Fort, Pa.); Alyssa Jones (F – Stroudsburg, Pa.); Sarah Kazmierski (M/D – Emmaus, Pa.)

Griffiths stated, “We hope to make a national impact this season. We have really been focused on ourselves and maintaining a dynamic, competitive training environment, with the players and coaches trying to push each other to be as good as we can be. The team atmosphere is strong and we have already seen growth on and off the hockey field through preseason. I think we have determination and potential to keep getting better.  We start with a stretch of tough and exciting games, so we will be ready to go.”

The University of Connecticut will host the BIG EAST Championships on Nov. 8-10. The first two rounds of the NCAA Championships will take place on Nov. 16-17.

For the second consecutive year, Old Dominion will host the NCAA Division I national title game along with the national semifinals on Nov. 22 and 24. In addition, the Division II and Division III national title games will also be played at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex on Nov. 24.

Follow Old Dominion Field Hockey on Twitter at twitter.com/ODUFieldHockey and find them on Facebook at facebook.com/ODUFH.

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