The Slippery Rock University field hockey team will be looking to overcome its seventh place preseason ranking and make it back into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs for a second consecutive year.
Slippery Rock will be lead by sixth year head coach Julie Swiney. Swiney has coached the Rock to five straight seasons with at least six wins, however the team has never finished a season with a winning record under Swiney.
Joining Coach Swiney on the sidelines this season will be new assistant coach Phoebe Hopkins. Hopkins is a former international coach an player, having most recently played semi-professionally in Ireland in 2014.
The 2014 season could be described as an up and down year for the green and white. The Rock finished 9-10 last year, being eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs by Shippensburg University. At the height of the season The Rock had won five straight games against conference opposites, three of those wins coming in overtime. At the season’s low point the team went on a four game skid to end the year, all four losses coming against PSAC playoff teams.
Swiney likes how much youth she was able to add to the team, as there are 11 freshmen on this year’s squad.
“Our athleticism and depth are better than ever and we are working to improve our team defense,” Swiney said. “It’s too early to tell which freshmen will contribute this year. Overall the freshman class is a very strong group. ”
Scoring was a weak point for the team a year ago as they only scored more than two goals twice and were shutout six times, including the playoffs. The Rock may once again struggle to score goals as the team graduated last year’s top two point scorers, Kelsey Gustafson and Allison Shade. Leading this season’s offensive attack will be senior forward Courtney Bradshaw, who started 18 of 19 games and earned one assist, and junior forwards Michelle Couch and Megan McKay. Couch made seven starts, tallying three goals and two assists and McKay made eight starts, scoring one goal and earning one assist. Sophomores Kailee Krupski (six starts, three goals) and Alyssa Castle will also look to contribute on the offensive side of the ball.
SRU will be returning three midfielders, in juniors Erika Rohrbach and Renee Rosenblum and sophomore Haylee Underood. Rohrbach made 17 starts last season and Rosenblum played in ten games, earning one goal and one assist.
The Rock was strong defensively last year, as opponent only scored more than two goals in a single game twice and senior goalie Carlee DuMars recorded three shutouts. DuMars started every game in goal for the green and white where she made 87 saves and held the opposition to a 1.35 goals per game average. Also returning on defense will be sophomore defenders Kayla Mac, who started all 19 games and Torri Rose, who played in 14 games a year ago.
Swiney will be looking towards her two seniors tobe leaders on both sides of the ball this season.
“Offensively we will look to Courtney Bradshaw to anchor our forwards and Carlee DuMars our goalie to do the same on the defensive end,” Swiney said. “I expect Carlee to lead the defensive unit and to be consistent in goal.”
Slippery Rock will open the season at home on September sixth when the compete against Bellarmine University, conference play will being for SRU on Septemeber 23rd as the team travels to play Bloomsburg University, senior day will be on October 24th against West Chester University, and The Rock’s final game of the season will occur on October 31st at East Stroudsburg University.