While some of the Rowan University fall sports are preparing to make title runs in the national tournament, the Rowan field hockey team has seen its twilight.
The brown and gold’s 2016 season ended on Nov. 2 when the team fell 3-1 to The College of New Jersey in the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. TCNJ has ended the Profs’ season for four straight years.
Despite the 12-7 overall record, head coach Michelle Andre liked what she saw out of her team this year.
“I think we ended on a strong, positive note,” Andre said. “We were playing our best hockey towards the end of the season.”
After starting the season 0-2, the brown and gold hit their stride in mid to late September with eight straight victories. They outscored opponents 28-4 with four shutouts in that stretch.
October brought conference play, and with it some road bumps.
Back-to-back NJAC losses to Kean University and TCNJ in early October put the Profs in an early hole. They ultimately were able to clinch a playoff spot with a 5-1 road win over Stockton University in the Oct. 29 regular season finale.
“I think the NJAC had a great year,” Andre said. “At any given time, the top four teams were ranked [nationally] and that’s the thing with our conference. It is difficult to get through. People get up to play us.”
The team finished the year with a 3-3 conference record after claiming a 5-1 mark the season prior. One of the reasons for the backwards step could have been the increased level of competition. Another could be the youth of the team.
Andre believes that part of the reason for the up-and-down end to the season was because of a constant flux in the lineup and game plan.
“We had a very young team and we had some injuries,” Andre said. “We’re a coaching staff and a team of adjustments. We’re going to find out what works for us. Every time something didn’t work, we would re-evaluate so that down would become an up.”
Despite the season’s disappointing conclusion, Andre’s “very young team” received plenty of recognition.
Sophomore Jacqui Rosati was awarded NJAC Midfielder of the Year as well as First Team All-Conference honors. Joining her on the first team were sophomore midfielder Rachel Galante and freshman forward Bridget Boyle. Galante had 11 points on the year, while Boyle finished fourth in the NJAC with 17 goals and was also named conference Rookie of the Year.
Junior midfielder N’Dea Irvin-Choy was named to the Honorable Mention All-Conference team.
“Jacqui was our best player all season. She played multiple positions for us, we were putting her where she could make an impact,” Andre said. “Midfielder of the Year is impressive for a sophomore, but she definitely deserved it. [Boyle] was an impact player as a freshman. Rookie of the Year honors is fantastic, but the fact that she made First Team All-Conference is astounding.”
Andre added that Galante was a “game changer” that was missed when she was out of the lineup with an injury and that Irvin-Choy was the most “consistent player all year.”
Now those players will have some time to take a few weeks and disconnect before they start to prepare for 2017.
“We’ll start building for next year after Thanksgiving break,” Andre said. “You always need some type of decompression at the end of the season. They got to be a Rowan field hockey player for most of the semester, and we still want them to be that, but it’s also time to be a Rowan student.”