2023 Syracuse Field Hockey Preview

Friday, Aug 25, 2023 at 4:46 pm by Sports Editor

By Max Gifford | @GiffMD

With Lynn Farquhar now at the helm for Syracuse University field hockey, a new era is set to begin for the Orange. The first assistant coach ever hired by Ange Bradley looks to pick up right where her former boss left off, after Bradley’s recent retirement in December after 16 seasons in charge of SU. The program Farquhar takes over for is the only one in the ACC to have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament each of the previous two years. In 13 of the previous 16 seasons, Bradley has had the reins, and the Orange have made the NCAA Tournament. This most recent fall, Syracuse (Ranked No. 9 in the final NCAA poll of 2022) was the owner of a 16-6 overall record and defeated No. 7 Princeton 5-2 in the NCAA Tournament opening round. While the Orange lost the first woman to bring a National Championship (2015) to the program, they return some key pieces and feature fresh faces determined to make a long-awaited return to Championship Weekend in 2023.

The Ringleaders

With the singular deviation of graduate student Quirine Comans, whose NCAA eligibility expired this past season; Syracuse will be led by two of its three NFHCA All-Americans, Charlotte de Vries (1st Team) and Eefke van den Nieuwenhof (2nd Team). It should come as no surprise; these were the two Orange players that received Preseason All-ACC nods (Tied for most team selections with North Carolina and Wake Forest) and additionally, two of the three captains for the upcoming season.

Serving as a co-captain last season, de Vries is the only four-time All-American in program history and is fresh off a summer competing in Jamaica with the United States Women’s National Team. While hesitant if she would return to ‘Cuse towards the tail end of last season, the ACC Second Team selection is back for a fifth year and looks to cement herself as one of the best to dawn the Orange kit. In four years, the second-year captain has tallied nearly a century total of points, including 40 goals and 19 assists. Those 40 career goals are tied for the sixth-most in Syracuse history, and her 99 points rank seventh all-time by a ‘Cuse player. The graduate student, whom Cuse.com lists as a midfielder for 2023, led the senior forwards with 40 points on 14 goals and a team-high 12 assists. The product of Malvern, Pennsylvania, most notably last season finished with five goals, including the game-clinching score against No. 7 Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. While de Vries will no doubt continue to climb the SU record leaderboards, expect her to also be a leading force off the hockey pitch for the 2023 campaign.

While de Vries will likely power the SU offense, another fellow co-captain, Eefke van den Nieuwenhof will be dependable both on the backline and on the attacking penalty corner (APC) unit for the Orange. The second-team All-American is back for her senior season after an abridged 2022. Despite missing five games to injury, van den Nieuwenhof ranked third on the team with 25 total points, including 10 goals and five assists. The back was an essential component of an Orange APC last season that converted corners around 20 percent of the time.

Who Else is Back in the Shiver?

After de Vries and van den Nieuwenhof, things begin to look desolate in terms of scoring for SU field hockey. This is mainly due to the nine seniors/grad students who won’t return to the roster this Fall. Put simply, every player has a chance to earn a starting spot. Some returners who have a chance to step up include junior Willemijn Boogert, who registered 17 points on seven goals and three assists in 2022. Some other potential standouts could feature second-years Lana Hamilton (13 points) and Lieke Leeggangers (nine points) who each had impressive freshman stints.

On the defensive end, Second Team All-ACC selection Jannemijn Deutman is expected to build on an exceptional rookie year. The back will be vital for the Orange’s transition which only allowed 1.64 goals per game last season. She’ll additionally be an important asset for the defensive penalty corner unit. The only other returnee to the SU backline is senior Sienna Pegram, who should continue to take up valuable minutes. The Hummelstown, Pennsylvania product has averaged just over 665 minutes per season in her first three years for Syracuse, which is third among current Orange backs.

For SU Field Hockey in the prior two seasons, goalkeeping has hovered towards the middle to bottom of the ACC, statistically speaking. After inexperience has plagued that front in past years, the ‘Cuse is equipped with a more polished and veteranized unit. Holding down the fort in front of the cage last year, junior and new captain Brooke Borzymowski started in all 22 games as SU’s netminder. With no changes to the Orange’s goalkeeping lineup, last year’s preseason ACC selection can expect more of the same workload. In each of the ‘Cuse’s 16 wins in 2022, Borzymowski racked up eight shutouts (three combined). Even while backing up a stocky defensive core, the goalkeeper made 77 saves with a 1.51 goals-against average. Some highlighted performances from the second year included a season-best 12 stops at No. 10 Virginia, and 10 saves at No. 2 Maryland in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals.

In reserve, Faraquhar will likely look first to junior Louise Pert, who saw just over 100 minutes and aided in the three combined shutouts. While the Ireland native didn’t make any starts last season, she started in three of her five games played back in 2021. Behind her, the Orange have sophomore Abby Neitch, who never saw the pitch once last year, and will likely play that similar third-string role barring any injuries to the starter or backup.

New Swimmers on the Sideline

Many of the competitors at Coyne Stadium this fall will be new to the 315; This includes the coaching staff end. This past month, Coach Farquhar announced the hire of former James Madison field hockey head coach Sam Brown. Regarding the hire, Farquhar told SU Athletics “[Brown’s] experience developing international players and Olympians will resonate instantly with our competitive team- and player-ambitions,” (Cuse.com). Another third of the assistants, while new to coaching, have been acclimated to the program for years. Emma Russell ’16, 2015 National Champion is returning to the Salt City as an assistant coach. The all-time leader in points (140) and goals (57) comes back to Central New York with a commitment to uphold and build upon Syracuse field hockey’s rich history of traditions, culture, and philosophy. The final assistant in the triumvirate, Sally Rutherford, is also a first-year coach. Despite no known ties to Syracuse, Rutherford brings over an impressive resume. She has competed for the New Zealand women’s national team (the Black Sticks Women) since 2009 and was the reserve goalkeeper for New Zealand in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Rutherford will primarily be involved in working with the SU goalkeeping unit this Fall.

Meet the Sharklets

One of the main motives behind hiring Coach Farquhar as the successor to Ange Bradley was the oversight of recruiting initiatives both locally and internationally Farquhar headed during her four seasons at Syracuse. Her foundation has greatly impacted the program’s last decade, and that trend only looks to continue this fall. The Orange are set to welcome nine new athletes to Coyne this year:

  • Pieke van de Pas, a graduate student Promotieklasse (Promotion Class) midfielder for VMH & CC MOP Dames 1 in the Netherlands.
  • Sarah Smalley, a freshman forward from East Islip High School in Long Island who tallied 65 career points (25 goals and 15 assists) in her four seasons.
  • Cato Schreinemacher, a freshman midfielder, and former five-time Dutch National champion from Rotterdam.
  • Bo (midfielder) and Hattie (forward) Madden, freshmen twin sisters, recognized as the Sedbergh School in England’s “Sportswomen of the Year”.
  • Leah Morrison, a freshman forward, recently named a Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year in 2022, out of St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C.
  • Aiden Drabick, a junior midfield transfer from St. Joseph University (SJU) following back-to-back Atlantic 10 championships.
  • Myrthe van Bolhuis, another freshman back Dutch recruit who competed at the highest youth level with the professional field hockey club HGC Wassenaar.
  • Amber Coebergh, is a freshman forward who played for the national top class with the U18 van Schaerweijde club in the Netherlands.
  • Izzy Redrup, a new sophomore midfield addition who was named a First Team All-State forward from Ridgefield High School in Connecticut her senior year.

The Voyage Ahead

In the 2023 ACC Field Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Syracuse earned 32 points, placing third behind North Carolina (45 points) and Virginia (42 points). Nationally, the Orange will open the Lynn Farquhar era ranked No. 8 in the NFHCA Preseason Poll. All seven ACC teams were voted in the top 20, which should make for a very competitive field once conference play gets underway.

To begin the season, SU plays back-to-back games in Burlington, Vermont against Sacred Heart (August 26) and Vermont (August 27). On September 1 against Monmouth, Farquhar will make her home debut as the team’s head coach. Six teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last fall are on the Orange’s schedule, including Penn State (September 24), who advanced to the national semifinals, and North Carolina (October 13), the current defending national champion. While Syracuse’s schedule does not guarantee a stroll in the park, success in the ACC’s star-studded conference is a surefire way to boost the team’s RPI; which the NCAA and tournament committees utilize to rank and seed teams in weekly polls and in the postseason. Follow @GiffMD on X for live in-game updates and coverage for everything Syracuse Field Hockey all season long.