Field Hockey Earns Spot in NCAA Tournament; Will Host Rhodes College in First-Round Game on November 9

Montclair, NJ (11/6/11) – For the first time in six seasons, the Montclair State field hockey team is back in the NCAA Tournament.

The Red Hawks received a much anticipated at-large bid to the field of 24 teams and will host a first-round game on Wednesday, November 9 at Sprague Field beginning at 1:00 pm. MSU, which was ranked third in last week’s NCAA Regional Rankings, will face Rhodes College from Memphis, TN. The winner advances to meet host and current No. 1 Salisbury University (MD) on Saturday, November 12.  

Montclair received one of the five Pool C bids handed out.  The appearance in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship will be Montclair State’s third overall and first since the 2005 season. Overall, MSU is 2-2 in its two previous appearances.

Montclair made its first trip to the NCAAs in program history in 2003 defeating New England College, 7-1 at home before falling to Middlebury College, 3-2 in the second round. Two years later, MSU returned opening up the NCAAs with another home game. This time, the Red Hawks downed Washington and Lee University 2-0 to advance to the second round. Montclair would head to Grantham, PA and Messiah College where it lost to William Smith College, 2-1.

Rhodes, out of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), earned its way into the tournament by capturing the automatic bid via a Pool B berth. The Lynx (11-6) knocked off Centre College (KY), 4-0 in the title game for their third consecutive conference championship. Last year, Rhodes finished 17-2 reaching the second round of the tournament before falling to Salisbury.

MSU is in the midst of one of its greatest seasons in program history. Ranked sixth in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association Poll, the Red Hawks are currently 18-2, the lone two losses coming to fourth-ranked The College of New Jersey – 1-0 at home on October 15 and 2-0 in last Saturday’s inaugural NJAC Tournament Championship Game in Ewing.

The 18 victories are a new MSU single-season record surpassing the mark of 17 set during that 2005 NCAA campaign and equaled the following year when MSU captured the ECAC Mid-Atlantic Championship.

Montclair boasts one of the top offensive and defensive teams in Division III this season. The Red Hawks have outscored their opponents, 69-22 in 20 contests this season and ranked 13th in scoring defense in last week’s NCAA statistical rankings. MSU has limited the chances for the opposition allowing just over eight shots per game.

Senior Chelsea Keelen (Tinton Falls, NJ / Middletown South), and All-NJAC selection, leads that defensive unit along with senior Kelly Churchill (Newton, NJ / Newton) and Sierra Rauchbach (East Brunswick, NJ / East Brunswick). Junior goalkeeper Megan Bosland (Boonton, NJ / Boonton), the last line of defense for the group, is having an outstanding season. The All-NJAC selection currently sports a goals against average of 1.09 with 63 saves and six shutouts.

On the offensive end , sophomore Brittany Carroll (Kingston, NY / Rondout Valley), an All-NJAC pick, leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and 41 points, one of five Red Hawks with 15 or more points this season. Junior Michelle Hagel (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) is second with 11 goals and 12 assists, becoming just the fifth player in the last decade to reach double-digits in both categories in the same season. Both Carroll and Hagel have four game-winning goals apiece.  Senior Devin McNamara (Mount Royal, NJ / Gloucester Catholic) had scored 14 goals this season with junior Kate Norgard (Columbia, NJ / North Warren) chipping in with 11 goals and 25 points. Sophomore Jennifer Tafro (Little Falls, NJ / Passaic Valley), the fourth MSU All-NJAC award winner, has scored nine goals.

Rhodes comes into the game at 11-6 overall, which also includes a 7-1 mark in the SCAC. The Lynx set a new school record for scoring with 60 goals, breaking the mark of 58 set a year ago. Freshman forward Kat Simpson leads the team with 36 points on 13 goals and 11 assists while junior forward Katie Faucher collected a team-best 15 goals and 34 points. Senior forward Taylor Mills has 10 goals. Junior Jordan Robinson has stopped 69 shots and boasts a 1.69 goals against average in 13 games

The Red Hawks and Lynx share one common opponent – SUNY-New Paltz.  Rhodes faced the Hawks in Hartford, CT on October 21 and fell 2-1 as New Paltz scored both goals in the first half before Simpson scored with five minutes remaining to cut the deficit in half. Montclair State shutout New Paltz, 5-0 on September 21 behind two goals from Hagel as well as a goal and assist by Carroll.