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Weekend College Games: Division II & III Season Opener

Each week, USA Field Hockey highlights upcoming college games to watch. This edition covers opening weekend for Division II and III.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 31

 

DII: NO. 4 KUTZTOWN vs NEW HAVEN | 3:00 PM ET | GOLDEN BEARS SPORTS NETWORK

Photo by: Clarus Multimedia Group
One of just a few games that mark the beginning of the Division II season on Thursday, No. 4 Kutztown opens their 2023 campaign by hosting New Haven. This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

A newer program that had its inaugural season in 2017, New Haven has been working to make a name for themselves in Division II field hockey. The Chargers finished the 2022 season with a sub-.500 record, but held their own in the Northeast-10 (NE10) conference – even picking up a 2-1 win over then-No. 7 Assumption.

On the other side of the pitch will be the much more established Kutztown. The Golden Bears had a tremendously successful 2022 season, and will look to capitalize off that momentum – starting with their first game of 2023.

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

 

DIII: NO. 21 BRYN MAWR vs CENTRE | 1:00 PM ET | CENTENNIAL NETWORK

Photo by: OneMoreShot
Meeting for the very first time, No. 21 Bryn Mawr will open their season against reigning Southern Athletic Association (SAA) champion Centre.

Bryn Mawr has really made a name for themselves in recent years as head coach Victor Brady enters his eighth season of leading the Owls. Last fall, Bryn Mawr finished their best season to date with a 15-5 record and a Centennial Conference championship game appearance. The Owls narrowly missed making an NCAA postseason appearance – falling 2-1 to Johns Hopkins after seven rounds of shootouts.

Hailing from Danville, Ky., Centre will be making a trip out to the Main Line to play Bryn Mawr on Friday and Haverford on Sunday. The Colonels finished out their 2022 season with a 10-7 record and their third SAA conference title in five years. 

  

DII: NO. 7 SAINT ANSELM vs NO. 5 MILLERSVILLE | 2:00 PM ET | NE10 NOW

Photo by: Chris Sponagle/Kutztown University
No. 7 Saint Anslem will kick off the season by testing their strength against three top-five opponents – starting with No. 5 Millersville on Friday. The Hawks will then face No. 3 West Chester on Sunday before a match against No. 2 Shippensburg next week.

Saint Anslem will be looking to get a win after ending their ‘22 campaign with two narrow overtime losses. After falling to Adelphi in the NE10 Semifinals, the Hawks concluded their season with a loss to Assumption in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last season was just the second time the Hawks and the Marauders clashed. After a slow start, Millersville picked up the pace to clinch a 2-1 victory.

 

DII: NO. 2 SHIPPENSBURG vs NO. 9 MOUNT OLIVE | 3:00 PM ET |  PSAC NETWORK

Photo by: Danielle Trimbur
In a top-ten matchup, No. 2 Shippensburg will host No. 9 Mount Olive in Shippensburg, Pa., on Friday afternoon.

Mount Olive has a tough task ahead in taking on the Raiders, who were Division II champions in 2021 and runner-up in 2022. After falling to PSAC foe East Stroudsburg in the 2022 NCAA Championship, Shippensburg has landed at No. 2 in both the PSAC Preseason Poll and the Division II preseason rankings.

The Trojans were chosen to finish first in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Preseason Poll, while the 13-player SAC Preseason All-Conference First Team features six of their players.

The pair matched up for the first time last fall and Shippensburg secured a comfortable 4-1 victory.


DIII: NO. 11 THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY (TCNJ) vs CATHOLIC | 4:30 PM ET | TCNJ WEBCASTS

Last September, it took a 67th-minute goal for TCNJ to take down Catholic, 1-0. Now, ranked 11th in the preseason NFHCA poll, the Lions will look to run its all-time winning streak to seven against the Cardinals on Saturday.


In head coach Rachel Palumbo’s second season, Catholic concluded their 2022 with a 11-8 record, but not before defeating Moravian 4-2 in the Landmark championship match. With the win, the Cardinals picked up the Landmark Conference trophy and solidified a spot in the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2015. Catholic will see the return of eight starters, including All-Landmark selection Gracie Burford. 

The No. 11 Lions made their own journey into the NCAA postseason last fall, where they also suffered a one-goal loss to Trinity a round after Catholic did.. TCNJ will return offensive leader and Second Team All-American selection Rayhanah Ahmed.



DIII: NO. 3 ROWAN vs URSINUS | 7:00 PM ET | YOUTUBE

Photo by: Lee Kotzen
No. 3 Rowan will open their season with a match against neighboring Ursinus, a traditional meeting since 2016.

Rowan has been making runs in recent years, going as far as the NCAA Semifinal in 2018, 2021, and 2022 – but never pushing into the Final. The Profs finished 21-2 last fall, falling 4-0 to Middlebury in the Semifinals.

The Bears worked hard to keep a winning record last fall and ended up at 10-9 after falling to then-No.4 Johns Hopkins 3-2 in the Centennial Conference semifinals. Their last NCAA postseason appearance was in 2021, when they fell to Scranton 3-2 in overtime in the First Round.

The pairing almost always makes for an interesting match, with Rowan winning the past four meetings after losing the previous 11. In 2022, the Profs picked up a 2-1 victory over the Bears.  

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 2

 

DIII: NO. 2 JOHNS HOPKINS vs NO. 16 WASHINGTON & LEE | 2:00 PM ET |  W&L ALL-ACCESS

A neutral-site, top-20 matchup between No. 2 Johns Hopkins and No. 16 Washington & Lee is the highlight of Saturday’s slate of games. While the Blue Jays hold a sterling 16-1 record against the Blue and White, five of the last six meetings have been decided by a single goal — with three requiring extra time.

Johns Hopkins made an admirable push to dethrone Middlebury in last year’s NCAA Championship, falling 1-0. The Blue Jays, winners of four consecutive Centennial Conference crowns, return key pieces like leading goalscorer Siena Urbanski, midfielder Mikayla Schoff, and goaltender Alexis Loder.

Washington & Lee, meanwhile, has won back-to-back Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) titles but was picked to finish behind Lynchburg this preseason. The Blue and White, under reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Gina Wills, will hope to make a statement in their opening weekend. Betty Boatwright was the conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2022, while defender Jenny Lerner was First Team All-ODAC.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3

 

DIII: NO. 15 CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT vs NO. 19 FRANKLIN & MARSHALL | 11:00 AM ET | CNU SPORTS

Photo by: Steven Goldburg
No. 19 Franklin & Marshall travels down to Newport News, Va., on Sunday to battle it out with No. 15 Christopher Newport. 

Franklin & Marshall finished out their 2022 campaign at 13-5, with their losses almost exclusively coming against ranked teams. The Diplomats were in the NCAA Championship as recently as 2019, a match that ended with a 1-0 loss to Middlebury. A big returner this season for Franklin & Marshall will be Second Team All-American senior Carolina Riley.

Similarly, Christopher Newport went 15-6 last season – falling to teams like then-No. 14 Washington & Lee and then-No. 1 Salisbury. After getting a bid to the NCAA tournament, the Captains eventually fell to  Rowan in the Second Round.

It was one year ago that the Captains and Diplomats had their first meeting. Franklin & Marshall captured a 2-0 victory on their home field.



DII: PACE vs NEWBERRY | 12:00 PM ET | NE10 NOW

Pace and Newberry face off on Sunday at noon in New York City, N.Y.

The Setters and Wolves opened their 2022 campaign together while also matching up for the first time. It was a closely contested game that ended with Newberry winning 3-2 in overtime.

The Setters went on to have a 13-8 season that was ended by Adelphi in the NE10 conference championship, while the Wolves finished 11-8 with a loss to Mount Olive in the SAC semifinal. Both teams were ranked third in their respective conference preseason polls.



DII: NO. 1 EAST STROUDSBURG vs NO. 6 ASSUMPTION | 1:00 PM ET | NE10 NOW

Photo by: Dave Janosz
Starting off the season against the best of the best, No. 6 Assumption will take on reigning champion No. 1 East Stroudsburg on Sunday.

After their dominant 2022 season, East Stroudsburg was awarded the top spot in the preseason rankings, receiving 18 out of 22 possible first place votes. The Warriors are in a good position – they will only be missing three out of their starting lineup last season, and will return all three of their offensive leaders (Madison Kline, Nicole Krozser, Hanna Lewis) and goalkeeper Amy Supey.

Voted to finish first in the NE10 Preseason Poll, Assumption will look to claim that title this fall after falling to Pace, 2-1, in the NE10 quarterfinal in 2022. The Greyhounds will return their 2022 co-offensive leader Mia Salah, but will be missing her counterpart Christina Leonard.

The pair matched up twice last season – when they played this same opening weekend, East Stroudsburg dominated with a 6-0 win. Then, the Warriors ended Assumption’s season in the NCAA Semifinals when they defeated them, 3-0. In overall meetings, the Greyhounds trail 4-2.



Images courtesy of: Stylish Images/Ursinus Athletics, Clarus Multimedia Group/New Haven Athletics, OneMoreShot/Bryn Mawr Athletics, Chris Sponagle/Kutztown Athletics, Danielle Trimbur/Mount Olive Athletics, Lee Kotzen/Rowan Athletics, Dave Janosz/ESU Athletics, Steven Goldburg/CNU Athletics

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