Slippery Rock University’s field hockey team finished this season with a record of six wins and 12 losses and wound up in second to last place in the PSAC standings at No. 10 place just ahead of winless Seton Hill University. Coming off a winning season last year and being picked to finish No. 7 in the PSAC in the preseason poll, the final results are most definitely disappointing.
“We have a lot of growing to do as a team. We knew it was going to be a rebuilding year having lost such a big group and that the conference is so competitive. You have to be at your best all the time to get wins,” said Coach Julie Swiney who is the second winningest coach in school history with 63 wins.
Although not a winning season, Swiney’s team has finished with at least six wins each year she’s been the head coach at SRU since her arrival in 2010. What makes that so special is the fact that the program had just four seasons from 1982 to 2009 where they had won at least six games. In the 11 years prior to Swiney becoming the head coach, the team had won just 27 games.
New to the coaching staff this year was Missy Revesz who came abroad in February. Revesz, a 2015 graduate of Kent State University, majored in exercise science with a minor in athletic coaching. She also played on Kent State University’s women’s field hockey team. The field hockey team at Kent State participates in Division I play in the Mid-American Conference. Over her four years as a player, she appeared in 74 games. In her senior season, the Kent State Golden Flashes won 11 games and won the Mid-American Conference Title. The Golden Flashes also earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament that year.
“She’s been tremendous. She’s young. She played Division I just four years ago and was an excellent player. She’s brought a lot of new ideas to our program, and I think that in time those new ideas are going to translate into a lot of success with our attack. Also, she brings a strength and conditioning background which is also going to translate to a more fit team and a more dedicated team in the weight room,” said Coach Swiney.
Prior to arriving at SRU, Revesz coached at the College of Wooster for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and coached at Oberlin College in 2017. At the College of Wooster, she coached under Brenda Meese. Meese, who is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Women’s Field hockey history, currently has 417 wins as a field hockey coach and is only the seventh coach in Division III Field Hockey history to reach the milestone of 400 wins. At the College of Wooster, Missy Revesz coached three National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region honorees. While at Oberlin College, two players were All-North Coast Athletic Conference honorees. Those players were Dillon Sebastian and Amelia Huang.
This year, ten freshmen were on the roster for Slippery Rock. Freshman midfielder/defender Emily Polakovsky and freshman defender Haley Pitt both played over 600 minutes. Polakovsky played 827 minutes and Pitt played 649 minutes. Polakovsky and Pitt played the most out of all the freshmen. Freshman forward Jessie Trube, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, scored five goals which was the second most on the team behind sophomore forward Kayla Ulrich. Scoring five goals places her in a tie for fourth most goals by a freshman in a single season. Two of Trube’s goals came in the season opener against St. Thomas Aquinas.
Emily Polakovsky, who started in the final seven games of the season, collected two goals this season. Freshman midfielder/forward Lauren Marks also scored two goals this season. Her two goals came in the season opener as well against St. Thomas Aquinas. Freshman forward Alayna Wagner is the only other freshman to score a goal this season. She scored one goal this season. Wagner and Polakovsky both attended Penn Trafford High School in Iwrin, Pa. Both were captains as seniors at Penn Trafford High School. Penn Trafford won the WPIAL Championship during their junior and senior seasons of high school.
“I think several of them showed a lot of potential. Two in particular earned a lot of playing time and I think that it’s going to be up to them whether they can to put that work in and stay focused. If they do that, they have the potential to continue the program in the right direction,” said Swiney.
The 2018 team included a senior class of six seniors. Midfielder Hannah Downing, midfielder Sam Geroski, defender Liz Wolfe, forward Rachel Ivins, midfielder Hannah Simone, and defender Tara Maloney made up the senior class. Wolfe played the most out of the senior class this season with 1,137 minutes played. Geroski and Simone also played over 1,000 minutes. Downing played 942 minutes. Ivins played 304 minutes and Maloney played 94 minutes. Downing led the senior class in goals with two and the two other seniors to score a goal were Ivins and Wolfe. Ivins and Wolfe each scored just one goal.
Coach Swiney remarked on how great a group of women the senior class is. She mentioned their exceptional work ethic on the field and in the classroom. She feels they’ve left a lot of positive imprints on the program because of the team’s success last season.
Swiney spoke of Liz Wolfe as being one of the best defenders to come out of the program since Swiney took over as coach. Wolfe’s impressive career includes her number of consecutive starts which is 61. That streak began during her freshman season. As a sophomore, she made eight defensive saves which is the second most in program history. In that season she ranked third in the nation in most defensive saves. Her career total in defensive saves is 18 which is tied for the third most in program history.
In a Sept. 25 non-conference game of 2018 against Mercyhurst, she scored the game-winning goal and recorded an assist in that game. She made two assists in an Oct. 24 conference game this season against Seton Hill. She’s been a two-time NFHCA Scholar of Distinction and is 2018 all-PSAC. She also is selected to play in the 2018 NFHCA Senior All-Star Game. Wolfe finished this season tied for No. 5 in Division II for defensive saves.
“[Wolfe] will be hard to replace,” Swiney said.
Being in the PSAC is an enormous challenge for The Green and White as seven of their ten conference games came against ranked foes including the Division II National Champion of the last two seasons Shippensburg. One player on Shippensburg’s team, sophomore midfielder Jazmin Petrantonio, was featured in “Faces In The Crowd” in an issue of Sports Illustrated for a three goal game against IUP in 2018. Petratonio, who hails from Argentina, was named the Division II Atlantic Region player of the year last year.
Petratonio was recently named 2018 PSAC Field Hockey Athlete of the Year. SRU also faced West Chester when they were ranked No. 1 in Division II and faced East Stroudsburg when they were ranked No. 2 in Division II. Slippery Rock did win a game against Mercyhurst and a game against IUP earlier in the season but those games were considered non-conference games. SRU’s lone win in conference play came against Seton Hill who was winless.
Coach Swiney deemed the PSAC “really competitive.” She said SRU had a tough schedule this fall and commented on the lack of home weekend games as a challenge for her squad.
Kayla Ulrich scored eight goals this season giving her 19 for her career and led the team in goals. She scored 11 goals last season, which set a record for most goals scored in a season by a freshman. She ranks No. 6 all-time in program history in career goals scored. She was a 2017 Synapse Sports Rookie All-American last season and is a two-time All-PSAC honoree. She played 830 minutes this season and took a team-leading 39 shots.
Despite scoring three less goals than last season, Swiney looks at Ulrich’s season as being one of great production.
“She was able to still find a lot of success with a totally different supporting cast. We struggled to fill those shoes that we were missing and despite that, she maintained a high level of play and still find a lot of success which I think was awesome to see,” Swiney said of Ulrich’s season.
Ulrich is currently 14 goals away from tying the all-time program career goals record of 33 goals which was set by Megan McKay. McKay, the older sister of current sophomore midfielder Abby McKay for The Rock, was with the program from 2013 to 2016.
Coach Swiney said she hopes Ulrich reaches Megan McKay’s program record of 33 career goals but the statistic her squad is really focused on is the win-loss record. However, Swiney viewed it as attainable for Ulrich to have 33 career goals by her senior season.
Another player who made significant contributions to Slippery Rock this season was sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Murphy of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who started at goal in all 18 games and played almost all 70 minutes in most of those games. She made 97 saves this season and played 1,152 minutes.
She remained in goal for the entire game in nine consecutive games at one point this season. She currently ranks No. 6 all-time in program history with 155 saves. She is just 13 saves behind teammate of a year ago Nicole Bream for No. 5 all-time. After recording six wins in net this season, she became No. 4 all-time in career wins with 11 in program history.
Swiney said of Murphy’s season, “I think she had a tremendous season. She grew a lot as a player and as a person. I think that it’s a great foundation for her moving forward into her junior and senior year.”
Slippery Rock University has posted the highest team GPA in Division II in five of the past eight seasons. The past six seasons Slippery Rock University has posted the highest team GPA in the PSAC and has had 111 student-athletes recognized as PSAC Scholar Athletes.
“I’m very proud of them. It’s part of my philosophy as a coach and our team culture that we want to be the best that we can be on the field and in the classroom. I respect their effort and the sacrifices that they make to do well in both areas and I hope we can continue to do that moving forward,” Swiney said of the team’s academic success.