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Field Hockey Preview: Great Danes Look to Maintain Conference Dominance

By Mattie Fitzpatrick | August 21, 2023

In 2022, field hockey won the America East and made it to round two of the NCAA tournament.

Photo Credit: Brent Warzocha/ UAlbany Athletics

The 2023 America East Preseason Coaches’ Poll has placed the University at Albany’s field hockey program as projected to finish first earlier this month after a unanimous vote. They won with eight first-place votes and a total of 64 points. Maine trailed behind with 51 points and Stanford with 50.

After making it to the NCAA Second Round against Penn State, UAlbany lost 1-0 but they continued to have a strong postseason. Sophomore Alison Smisdom earned titles of Northeast Regional Player of the Year, first team All-America, and SUNY Scholar Athlete of the Year. The team’s coaching staff was named Regional Staff of the Year by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, and nine players earned spots on the 2022 NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad.

UAlbany graduated seven of it’s returning players in the 2022-2023 season, these being forward Luisa Knapp, defense Julie Rodijk, midfield/forward Stephanie Moncavage, forward/midfield Elaina Burchell, forward Robyn Murray, forward Lillian Hickey and midfield/forward Mackenzie Hilditch.

Great Dane field hockey opens up with a home game against UMass who was voted into third place in the poll with 33 votes on August 25th, 2023. UMass previously had a record of 14-6 in the 2022-2023 season. In this game, five new recruits will be making their debut as Great Danes.

Lilly Fringer is a forward with experience and accolades from both her high school, Northern High School, and club team, XCalibur. She was named First Team All-Pennsylvania and all conference and was most valuable player in high school.

Mara Küskes is a defender with experience on the world stage. She is originally from Germany and has four West German Championship titles, having competed in both indoor and outdoor field hockey for six years.

Delphine Le Jeune is a graduate student transferring from Old Dominion but is originally from Belgium. She was a 2022 third team All American and a three-time first team All-Big East honoree and often plays defense.

Emma Staron is an incoming freshman from Wilson West Lawn High School who brings her own accolades to the team. Named First Team All-Pennsylvania and the recipient of an Academic All-State Award in both 2021 and 2022, this defensive player is expected to make an impact.

Finally, Axelle Werbrouck is an offensive player originally hailing from Belgium. She has national team experience and was a member of the Belgium Junior National Team and the Dames 1 field hockey team.

With the addition of recruits and the existing team, UAlbany is projected to have a strong season. Head Coach Phillip Sykes said, “...with who’s returning and who’s coming in, I think the sky could be very high.”


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